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9602 Moonlight Drive: Contemporary masterpiece destroyed


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That's not the house in Meyerland by Cohen is it?

If you want to systematically make copies of the modern house plans with the $100 deposit system, then that would be a great idea. The place Houston Mod uses for printing may offer a discount, though I know because I don't deal with that directly.

How many moderns do you think we're talking about? PM me if you want to make a project borrowing the plans.

Jason

This HOA actually lets you check them out with a $100 deposit. If you don't bring them back they cash your check. If you bring them back they give your check back to you. I still have the plans for the house we were trying to buy. I torture myself with them regularly. If the house is being bought by someone wanting to tear it down then I will ask the HOA to keep the plans. Who knows maybe someday we will build a new house on the old plans. It was designed by Charles Sawyer. I believe before he became an architect.

As for the other house I will check to see if the plans are available and who the architect was. It's sad to see it torn down as it's such a unique home. The living room was round and the builder told me the oven opens in a gull wing fashion. Here is a pic from a couple of years ago before the mold took over.

I'm usually poor at posting pics so forgive me if it doesn't show up.

6373uko.jpg

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I see what they're saying, and wish they'd shut the hell up.

Granit is still willing to build you one of his fabulous homes on this lot as stated in the listing: Large cleared corner lot in the heart of Meyerland. Available for sale or as a custom build with G

I feel like I am in a huge torture chamber after reading topics like this one, time & time again. So many significant architectural structures falling. And why on earth would they keep a retro boo

That's not the house in Meyerland by Cohen is it?
Yes, it was the home of Robert Cohen. And it is under contract and will be demolished by the new owner who is building himself a home.All I wanted was for someone to take pics and secure the blueprints for the future enjoyment of modern enthusiasts. I understand that people have day jobs and don't have a ton of free time for such endeavours. I wouldn't have so much time to house stalk either if I wasn't looking for a home to purchase myself. Once it closes I am still going to try and see inside with a breathing filter just to enjoy. I will try to take some pics then. Edited by missjanel
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Yes, it was the home of Robert Cohen. And it is under contract and will be demolished by the new owner who is building himself a home.All I wanted was for someone to take pics and secure the blueprints for the future enjoyment of modern enthusiasts. I understand that people have day jobs and don't have a ton of free time for such endeavours. I wouldn't have so much time to house stalk either if I wasn't looking for a home to purchase myself. Once it closes I am still going to try and see inside with a breathing filter just to enjoy. I will try to take some pics then.

icon8.gif ! (re: the demolition)

which street is it on?

Edited by sevfiv
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icon8.gif ! (re: the demolition)

which street is it on?

I doubt there is a permit for demolition yet since the transaction has not yet closed and won't until about the middle of next month. But when I asked for the blueprints today the HOA already knew that it was being bought for development of a new home.

FWIW the HOA said that they don't go out of their way to throw away the blueprints when new homes occupy the lot. They said that the blueprints "may" get parsed from time to time but that most are probably still in the HOA files. Anyone can check them out for the nominal deposit I mentioned previously.

But to answer your question it's on Moonlight.

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Terrible news. I've had an ominous feeling about this house for 2 years now.

I have the feeling Meyerland is about to get mowed down and it seems like there's not that much anyone can do to stop it.

thanks - that's the one at the corner of braesheather

i'll add it to the front of the (long) photo queue

neat boomerang-esque pool, too

moonlight_cohen.jpg

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Photo by Ben H.

Moderator: Please move the last comments under the 3448 Locke Lane topic that pertain to this topic to this topic.

According to another post on HAIF, the contemporary masterpiece at 9602 Moonlight Drive in Meyerland is to be sold to a new owner who will have it demolished. Stephen Fox, in the American Institute of Architects Houston Architectural Guide states, "This is a quite extraordinary production, a circular steel-framed pavilion, capped with a folded plate roof, which is only part of a much larger contemporary style house."

This house is truly a masterpiece of mid twentieth century design. It by far surpasses almost any others. Even when compared to the finest of California, this house would shine. Of all the sites available in Houston, it certainly must be possible to find a lot with a less stunning house to sacrifice.

Robert Cohen, the designer and builder of the house, incorporated the most lavish elements and themes of the period. If my memory is correct, you enter through double doors after crossing pads of concrete over a pond water feature. The foyer is walled with floor to ceiling glass panels which lead to the circular steel framed living pavilion. There are triangular windows topping each wall segment created by the folded plate roof structure and also glass at the base of each wall panel. This pavilion is anchored to the ground only at the center of the circle by an elevated platform. The floor beams are thus cantilevered out from this center platform so the pavilion appears to float above the lawn. Two of the wall panels are glass while the others are upholstered in raw silk and used as art gallery space. A custom made sofa, probably twenty feet in length, which corresponded to the curvature of the outside wall, is situated upon a custom rug and forms the primary sitting area.

The convergence of the roof plates is the location of a circular skylight with a corresponding floor planter box containing several preserved palm trees. The kitchen area is also located within the pavilion space, behind a partial wall partition. The kitchen is styled similarly to photographs you see of the proposed Moon Base of the same period. Behind the kitchen are large storage areas, a bedroom and garage. The dining room, located next to the pavilion, is near the kitchen. The dining room will remind you of being inside of Jeanie's bottle from the 1960s television show I Dream of Jeanie. The color scheme, like Jeanie's bottle, is pink and purple. One wall features narrow vertical diamond shaped cutouts opening to the foyer and is accented with fur wall covering. Glass sliding doors lead from this area to the patio and pool.

Back through the foyer extends a corridor leading to a guest bathroom, an office with several built-ins, and a master bedroom all on the back or pool view side of the corridor. The master bedroom has an aquarium built into the wall and also is complete with some built in furniture pieces, one of which houses the control panel to the sophisticated lighting and sound system for the house. Opposite the master bedroom is another bathroom, guest room and a large bedroom divided by a folding wall for the children. Small, walled and gated gardens are accessible from these rooms.

The family room is located at the end of this wing of the house and overlooks the large swimming pool and patio/lawn area. The space is expansive since the lot is almost one-half acre in size.

Photo

Photo

Edited by SpaceAge
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Thanks, guys! I was going to bump this to its own topic too, but you did it better. Especially thanks to SpaceAge for the description. I've loved this house ever since driving around Braesheather in the mid-80s and going "What the h_ll is that?" (also easily done on Glenmeadow!) In missjanel's post (props, janel, for bringing this to our attention) she said that the new owner said that "mold and neglect" had done this house in. I'm sorry, but I go to the Galveston Historical Homes Tour every year, and there's almost always at least one house that is either restored or undergoing restoration from far, far worse condition (fire damage, years of neglect, etc.) I don't get it. It's almost enough to wish that the City would place a moratorium on demolition of any building not condemned as unsafe by the city.

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HCAD says that the house is owned by John O'Quinn. It seems inconsistent that someone who is so interested in perserving old cars and the history of the automobile (including ones from this era) would have bought this house just 3 years ago to sit on and sell for lot value. It looks like the previous sale was just over $500,000 in 2004. I can't imagine that this lot is worth that much. Has it been vacant since he bought it?

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i went by there last week but took a closer look today, and it definitely has that abandoned smell coming out of it.

it seems probable that it has been vacant the entire time, but he has managed to keep up the pool and landscaping quite nicely.

(he lives in River Oaks - and in this case, he bought the home, tore it down, and rebuilt something typicalesque, at least from aerial view...).

apparently the Cohens moved to the Bristol highrise in the Galleria...i wonder if they had any idea that O'Quinn has let the house rot away.

Edited by sevfiv
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John O'Quinn is obviously not low on funds. We need to contact him and convince him this house is worth saving.

From the Columbus Dispatch of August 21, 2007:

A billionaire Houston trial lawyer who has collected more than 800 classic cars now owns most of the Rolls-Royce cars that Columbus developer Richard J. Solove put on the auction block.

John O'Quinn successfully bid on eight of Solove's 13 Rolls-Royce automobiles that were sold Sunday at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance auction in California.

Solove's collection, which included two other cars, sold for $14.3 million. He's donating the money, minus auction expenses, to the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, as well as Ohio State University's Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Solove, 82, had predicted that the cars would go for about $15 million.

The collection's "Corgi," a 1912 Rolls-Royce SG limousine, sold for the most at $2.97 million.

The cars sold within an hour. O'Quinn bought all but one of the Silver Ghost models, which were the only known collection of first-series 40/50hp Ghosts, manufactured from 1907 through 1915.

He has been buying vintage cars for a number of years and plans to open a car museum in Houston in 2009. Among noted cars he already owns are a 1903 Ford Model A, a Batmobile, President Franklin Roosevelt's 1941 Packard limousine and the 1975 Ford Escort used by Pope John Paul II.

O'Quinn has amassed a fortune heading up such cases as Texas' $17.3 billion settlement with the tobacco industry and lawsuits against breast-implant manufacturers. Most recently, he represented Virgie Arthur, the late Anna Nicole Smith's mother, in her battle to obtain custody of Smith's daughter.

The lawyer purchased a number of other cars at the Pebble Beach auction, which broke an overall sales record of $60 million this year. O'Quinn could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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If somebody wants to do something about this situation -- and I agree something should be done -- then they have to do more than post on this site. It's not all that difficult either. Simply contact Randy Pace (randy.pace@cityofhouston.net) and inquire about a Landmark designation. Even if this is secured, (and I believe with proper documentation HAHC can designate such) it will not protect the structure from being torn down -- which is likely a foregone conclusion -- but at least it will send a message.

Or we could continue to whine about noteworthy architectural structures continually being demolished.

Anyone want to step up to the plate?

Kinda quiet out there...

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i agree, contacting people involved or that could be involved is the only way to get things rolling.

i have serious doubts that his mind will be changed, and am not so sure that city council would vote for landmark status without the consent of the owner (as they did for the River Oaks and Alabama theaters/shopping centers), but at least making things known will help a lot.

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Even if this is secured, (and I believe with proper documentation HAHC can designate such) it will not protect the structure from being torn down -- which is likely a foregone conclusion -- but at least it will send a message.

the message is quite clear, the city will not step on the foot of developers. the "gifts" provided ensure that.

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It looks to me as though the previous owner was looking to make a fortune and kept the asking price well out of the reach of most home buyers. Here is the history from MLS, each time with a different listing agent:

3/26/02 to 7/13/02 - $780,000 asking price

9/17/02 to 11/22/02 - $659,000 asking price

2/18/03 to 6/30/03 - $629,000 asking price

7/19/03 to 6/30/04 - $589,000 asking price, sold for $515,000

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This saddens me; it's my absolute favorite house in Houston. I grew up in Meyerland, and my parents knew the folks who built the house; they attended several parties there. They always referred to it as "The House of Formica"; I guess in the 60's Formica was a space-age product. I remember going through the house once as a child, and being amazed by the huge round room. What a truly unique space.

(I actually looked into purchasing the house before I moved to the Woodlands, but the $700K+ asking price seemed more than a little absurd.)

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i agree, contacting people involved or that could be involved is the only way to get things rolling.

i have serious doubts that his mind will be changed, and am not so sure that city council would vote for landmark status without the consent of the owner (as they did for the River Oaks and Alabama theaters/shopping centers), but at least making things known will help a lot.

Yes, working politely with the owners is the only way to be successful. Even with the improved preservation ordinances, the city still has no way to force owners into saving anything. We can't take peoples property rights away. We can show them options and that there is concern.

So, if you are concerned, you can easily find the owners website and send him a note. That's what I did and his staff very politely acknowledged it along with Jason's call. Let's keep a count of people who contact the owner. So far, we know of 2.

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Yes, working politely with the owners is the only way to be successful. Even with the improved preservation ordinances, the city still has no way to force owners into saving anything. We can't take peoples property rights away. We can show them options and that there is concern.

So, if you are concerned, you can easily find the owners website and send him a note. That's what I did and his staff very politely acknowledged it along with Jason's call. Let's keep a count of people who contact the owner. So far, we know of 2.

3 actually; I contacted his office about a month and a half ago.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...
I was told by a neighbor that the house has already changed hands and will be destroyed...

Jason

Perhaps access could be granted for photo documentation. Unlike some of the other demolished structures in Houston, this is a significant piece of architecture -- regardless of period created. Perhaps Ben H would be in the position to preserve the memory of this edifice.

It's a real shame this one is a goner.

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Perhaps access could be granted for photo documentation.

Actually that's what I had requested when I originally posted about it being bought for the construction of a new home. Seeing that the house was intact and that the original architectural plans were readily available I wanted to see if someone could document the home before it's demise. But I really don't see the new owner being so quick to let in the very folks who tried to prevent him from purchasing the home. However it's worth a shot if anyone is interested.

You can check out what the future holds here:

http://www.granitbuilders.com/

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Actually that's what I had requested when I originally posted about it being bought for the construction of a new home. Seeing that the house was intact and that the original architectural plans were readily available I wanted to see if someone could document the home before it's demise. But I really don't see the new owner being so quick to let in the very folks who tried to prevent him from purchasing the home. However it's worth a shot if anyone is interested.

You can check out what the future holds here:

http://www.granitbuilders.com/

Well, missjanel beat me to the punch on their website, but here are a few links to their active listings in MLS...

http://www.har.com/3998498 (Meyerland)

http://www.har.com/9942241 (Ayrshire)

http://www.har.com/3525863 (Bellaire)

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gbi_01.jpg

I'm not sure how many times the point has to be made with respect to the new home construction types but it accomplishes little. Sure it's fun to lambaste the poor choices for replacements of significant architecture (be it post war or contemporary), but constructive activism toward an objective -- say, documentation of a significant structure, securing of existing plans, etc. -- would be far more beneficial than yet another critique of a "mcmansion".

Just a thought.

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I'm not sure how many times the point has to be made with respect to the new home construction types but it accomplishes little. Sure it's fun to lambaste the poor choices for replacements of significant architecture (be it post war or contemporary), but constructive activism toward an objective -- say, documentation of a significant structure, securing of existing plans, etc. -- would be far more beneficial than yet another critique of a "mcmansion".

Just a thought.

Point taken. I'll rephrase. For anyone that might possibly want to document the home you can contact the new owner Marvin Granit of Granit Builders at the website listed above.

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I'm not sure how many times the point has to be made with respect to the new home construction types but it accomplishes little. Sure it's fun to lambaste the poor choices for replacements of significant architecture (be it post war or contemporary), but constructive activism toward an objective -- say, documentation of a significant structure, securing of existing plans, etc. -- would be far more beneficial than yet another critique of a "mcmansion".

Just a thought.

Point taken, but I just threw up in my mouth a little when I saw this picture. I know it's not constructive activism, but so be it.

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I'm not sure how many times the point has to be made with respect to the new home construction types but it accomplishes little. Sure it's fun to lambaste the poor choices for replacements of significant architecture (be it post war or contemporary), but constructive activism toward an objective -- say, documentation of a significant structure, securing of existing plans, etc. -- would be far more beneficial than yet another critique of a "mcmansion".

True, but if we could just change one person's mind about bad home design, it's worth it. :P

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This isn't constructive, but I hate spec homes.

I hope those 3 examples above languish on the market. I have noticed in the last few months that many of the specs have been sitting empty awaiting buyers. I can only pray that it means it is getting risky to develop these pieces of _________.

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This isn't constructive, but I hate spec homes.

I hope those 3 examples above languish on the market. I have noticed in the last few months that many of the specs have been sitting empty awaiting buyers. I can only pray that it means it is getting risky to develop these pieces of _________.

That's so sweet of you to hope that another person's business fails since the houses they are building don't fit with your personal taste.

flipper

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That's so sweet of you to hope that another person's business fails since the houses they are building don't fit with your personal taste.

flipper

Hmmmm....

And I suppose it's sweet when spec home builders move into neighborhoods and destroy character by building houses completely out of scale?

I also suppose it's sweet when 5,000 square foot McMansions move into former bungalow neighborhoods pricing out many buyers from what used to be affordable areas and raising taxes on long-time residents?

And is it sweet when these builders come in and tear down viable houses and more often than not waste a tremendous amount of resources?

And maybe you think it is sweet when these fellas move in and clear cut lots and build to the property lines in order to maximize profits?

And is it all groovy when spec home builders use their connections and deep pockets to tend to lock up homes/lots before individuals have a chance to get them?

Or, maybe you like the idea of spec homes sitting empty for months on end in neighborhoods because they are GROSSLY overpriced ($2.9 million in Afton Oaks?)

Forgive me for not shedding a tear for McMansion developers!

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Hmmmm....

And I suppose it's sweet when spec home builders move into neighborhoods and destroy character by building houses completely out of scale?

I also suppose it's sweet when 5,000 square foot McMansions move into former bungalow neighborhoods pricing out many buyers from what used to be affordable areas and raising taxes on long-time residents?

And is it sweet when these builders come in and tear down viable houses and more often than not waste a tremendous amount of resources?

And maybe you think it is sweet when these fellas move in and clear cut lots and build to the property lines in order to maximize profits?

And is it all groovy when spec home builders use their connections and deep pockets to tend to lock up homes/lots before individuals have a chance to get them?

Or, maybe you like the idea of spec homes sitting empty for months on end in neighborhoods because they are GROSSLY overpriced ($2.9 million in Afton Oaks?)

Forgive me for not shedding a tear for McMansion developers!

Here here! I don't feel sympathy for these people. Yes, everyone's got to make a living and they've got as much a right to do that as anyone, but it's not like these people just happen across a vacant lot and have unwittingly built a Mediteruscan piece of crap out of sheer ignorance. They are deliberately going into places like Memorial Bend, buying up great houses that are beautiful examples of 50's modern design and destroying them. I've actually heard some of them talk about it. Their goal is to make Memorial and any other piece of land they can like a master planned community or Cinco Ranch. It's a calculated effort. The only consolation is that sooner or later, they'll be gone, once the bottom falls out of the housing market.

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I bet most people don't think it's fun to lambaste these "new" houses, but you're right, it doesn't get us that far preaching to the choir here on this message board...

As for documenting this house, I don't know about getting pictures now unless we're able to sneak in against the law. Maybe the developers are nice or maybe they have no interest in having us over to shoot the house for posterity. However the Cohens are still alive and would most likely be accomodating to us scanning their photos. It's a matter of lack of time and too many irons in the fire that I haven't written this house up on Houston Mod so I'm sorry for not getting to that yet.

My next order of business is to help get ready for the Houston Mod seminar on Protected Landmark Status. I'll put up a bulletin on that shortly. We will be using my house as an example and I will apply for it for our house.

Jason

I'm not sure how many times the point has to be made with respect to the new home construction types but it accomplishes little. Sure it's fun to lambaste the poor choices for replacements of significant architecture (be it post war or contemporary), but constructive activism toward an objective -- say, documentation of a significant structure, securing of existing plans, etc. -- would be far more beneficial than yet another critique of a "mcmansion".

Just a thought.

Edited by Willowisp
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As for documenting this house, I don't know about getting pictures now unless we're able to sneak in against the law. Maybe the developers are nice or maybe they have no interest in having us over to shoot the house for posterity.

Jason

I think I can get in to take pictures this week (without sneaking in).

I may be able to "get" things from the house too if it matters.

flipper

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Ben and Kinkaid,

what are your thoughts on people who hire builders to tear down mod houses like this to build themsleves a custom house that is not mod or isn't in your taste?

flipper

Personally, it depends. If the house isn't in good enough condition to save, then it's not worth it. Hire an architect and build a new house. But how can you bulldoze something like the Caudell house? Yes, it had some roof issues, but it was (is?) in great shape when I saw it. I heard someone say that the flatter the roof, the more trailer-like it is. That pretty well sums things up, doesn't it? If you can save it, do it. If not, don't go bury yourself in dept trying to save something that can't be. All I can say is thank God for people with tons of money (like Dana Harper, the Mosbachers and the Menil Foundation) that can save the real masterpieces.

The other thing you have to keep in mind about builder houses is that some people (not necessarily excluding myself) have no taste whatsoever, but that doesn't stop them from making the money to buy or build these things.

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The focus of the topic is 9602 Moollight Drive, as such perhaps we could remain focused on this item.

I previously posted suggesting photo documentation efforts from someone who might be in a position to do such. This house will likely be demolished in the near future so whatever preservation efforts (be it documentation in this case) can be executed such needs to occur without delay.

Or once again, we will have a posting of digital images of a demolished property -- what purpose this serves is beyond me -- and no lasting document of what once was.

Another poster mentioned the existence of construction documents... if these do indeed exist, they should be secured for copying or better yet, submission to a legitimate retainer of historic architectural documents -- I see no reason whoever holds these documents that they would not be willing to assist in the desired goal. Also, some members have attempted to contact the current owner/developer --those efforts are certainly laudable (kudos to you) -- but we should consider this one a goner.

The items noted above are realistic tasks and can be accomplished with a little effort. At least we would be able to say that something was achieved before the house disappeared forever.

Who's stepping up to the plate?

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I think I can get in to take pictures this week (without sneaking in).

I may be able to "get" things from the house too if it matters.

flipper

please let us know what comes of this. i know there are several of us here that would really appreciate a final opportunity to see the interior and document it - i know owners may not be all about group tours, but i thought i'd throw that out there.

as far as posting images of demolished property - it is also part of the documentation process (as well as what is built in its place). while demo and interior pictures may not serve the noblest purpose, sometimes it is all that we have since much demolition occurs without a lot of notice, and those who own the property either do not have print documentation for the house or do not want to share it.

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