Teapot Dome figure's home in El Paso may be demolished
Owner of A.B. Fall mansion,
city clash over home's status
El Paso Times
Monday, April 10, 2006
A temporary restraining order filed on behalf of A.B.
Fall mansion owner Sib Abraham and his son, William
Abraham, has prompted a City Council vote that allows
city attorneys to pursue aggressive avenues --
including possible use of eminent domain -- to rescue
the historic property.
City officials long have sought a means to either
force the Abrahams -- who own many properties in El
Paso, including the Caples building and the Kress
building -- to repair the property or get Sib Abraham
to sell it to someone who will.
For years, William Abraham has said repairs are so
close to completion at the Fall mansion that he could
have the property rented in the next several weeks.
"I think there are widespread concerns that some
aggressive action needs to be taken," said South-West
city Rep. Beto O'Rourke. "I don't know why he's doing
this, but at some point these properties are in real
danger and might need to be condemned."
The A.B. Fall mansion is a 9,000-square-foot property
at 1725 Arizona built in 1907 by Albert Fall -- long
regarded as a scapegoat in the Teapot Dome bribery
scandal during President Warren G. Harding's
administration. Fall's ancestors to this day are
seeking a posthumous presidential pardon.
City officials -- who say the property is suffering
from structural and other damage as a result of years
of poor upkeep -- planned to consider condemning the
Fall property at a Building Standards Commission
meeting late last month. But the Abrahams were able to
persuade 205th District Court Judge Kathleen Olivares
to issue the temporary restraining order to prohibit
The Abrahams argued that they have made the necessary
repairs required by the city, which included
improvements to the property's structural condition
and inspection by an independent engineer. They're
ready to start painting the exterior of the property.
"The structural integrity is irrefutable and what
we're dealing with is cosmetic," William Abraham said.
"But I can't go in there and start painting."
William Abraham said he was in Florida during spring
break and could not return to El Paso in time for the
Building Standards hearing. His flight was canceled,