From Mod Pad to Mold Pit in Four Years: The Sorry Saga of the Carousel House

9602 Moonlight Dr., Meyerland, Houston

One detail glossed over delicately in Lisa Gray’s colorful tale of the decline of Meyerland’s Carousel House, featured in today’s Chronicle: The abandoned home’s apparent awful stench. From a few would-be visitors, posting on HAIF:

The owner told me that everyone he’s taken in there has gotten sick soon after coming out. Apparently it is REALLY nasty in there. I may swing by and get some new filters for my mask.


i could smell “the smell” just standing in the driveway

But hey, the interior shots from just a few short years ago make the house look super fab! Built in 1964 by owner Robert Cohen, the Modern gem merited a Texas magazine feature story in 2003. Just four years, one ultra-rich attorney, one shady personal assistant, countless hookers, umpteen heroin hazes, and a couple of dozen missing exotic cars later, the house on the corner of Moonlight Dr. and Braesheather appears headed for an almost-certain but certainly difficult demolition. (15,000 pounds of steel, anyone?)

After the jump, highlights of the home from its heyday, excerpts from the sordid and fetid tale of its fall from Modern grace, and a photo of the far more up-to-date carousel that just might be built in its place!


There once was a classic ultra-cool sixties home in Meyerland:

Inside, the curving wall is lined with horizontal shikii silk-covered panels designed to facilitate hanging and rearranging artwork. Gray glass above and below the paneled wall lets in daylight and makes the wall appear to float.

More than 183,000 tiny squares of walnut cover the floor in the living room and dining room.

Electrical outlets, hinges and other hardware, even air-conditioning vents, are cleverly concealed.

Many cabinets, dressers, bookshelves and a see-through aquarium are either built in or were made by Cohen just for the house. A custom 32-foot sofa upholstered in deep blue velour follows the contour of the round wall until its end curls into a semicircle.

Staggered Arkansas ledge stone used as the linear exterior facade gives texture to one wall in a guest bedroom and in the dining room.

A glassed-in sunken tub and adjoining shower feel like a private garden surrounded on two sides by palms and other tropical plants.

Cut to 2003: the Cohens retire to a highrise and put the house up for sale. After two years on the market, the house is bought by tobacco, breast implant, and fen-phen lawsuit beneficiary (and sometime-medical-tower-namesake) John O’Quinn, who allows his assistant, an ex-con named Zev Isgur, to move in. And then the trouble starts:

On his behalf, Isgur had traveled the country, buying Duesenbergs, Bugattis and Packards. But suddenly Isgur wasn’t returning his calls. O’Quinn had noticed the young man seemed to be living outside his means–weekends in Las Vegas, sporty duds, flashy girls. Where was Isgur getting his money? Answer: He was embezzling it, from right under O’Quinn’s nose.

And off to jail Isgur goes. But what about his cool pad?

Neglected, the house declined fast. The roof leaked and water got in. Vandals broke glass and spray-painted the living room. The custom-made furniture disappeared. . . .

In late September, without offering the house for sale to the general public, the lawyer sold it to Granit Builders, Inc., a construction company that specializes in the kind of large new houses that have swallowed West U and Bellaire, and are moving into Meyerland.

So what will Granit Builders build? Maybe something suitable for a large corner lot, like this mold-free fantasy the company featured in the Bellaire New Home Showcase:

New Home by Granit Builders in the Bellaire New Home Showcase

Does that mean the Carousel House’s boomerang-shaped swimming pool is toast too?

Photo of 9602 Moonlight Dr.: HAIF member Willowisp