From left, Ald. John Splitt, Ald. Rollie Peabody and Mayor Gary Will stand in a mold-covered, wet hallway and peer into the worst room at the former American House.
From left, Ald. John Splitt, Ald. Rollie Peabody and Mayor Gary Will stand in a mold-covered, wet hallway and peer into the worst room at the former American House.

   Several Ripon Police officers stepped out of the building, wiping their eyes and coughing.

   It’s all yours, they indicated.

   Donning masks, half of the Ripon Common Council stepped into the old American House building at 230 Watson St., led by Mayor Gary Will.

   Even on this seasonably cool, dry evening, the odor of mold built quickly as the men walked deeper into the aged structure. By the time they reached the second floor, the air was almost too thick to breathe ...

   Black mold covered the walls; carpets squished with seeping water.

   Damage caused by interlopers from a few years ago — who wrote Satanic messages on the walls and broke windows — no longer seemed to be the biggest problems.

   Mother Nature slowly reclaiming the building took center stage ...

   The building, long neglected by both former owner Boca Grande Capital and current owner the city of Ripon, seems to be in need of immediate action.

   And, without anyone stepping up in the many months the city has sought a buyer, that action may need to be drastic.

   “It’s got to come down,” Will said.

   That’s an option the Ripon Common Council will consider Monday, Aug. 26 when it discusses the building’s future.

Read the full story, with information about the current condition of the building, how it got this way and what's happening next, in the Aug. 22, 2019 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.