Heights Homeowners Can’t Distance Themselves from Former Felon-Owned Bungalow Next Door, City Rules

After the owner of the yellow bungalow went to jail in 2015 for conspiracy, the townhome neighbors bought it and begun looking to put some distance between the house and their own. Last Wednesday, the city’s historical commission reviewed their plans however and told them no can do. The extra 7-ft.-8-in. they wanted to add between the 2 structures would take the bungalow — part of the Heights South Historic District — out of its original 1920 location at 922 Columbia St. And the other change — sliding it 5-ft.-3.5-in. back from the curb to line up with its taller neighbor — would make it less prominent along the street.

The decision is binding, so there’s no shying away now from the current situation:


The bungalow’s former owner — defense attorney Abraham Moses Fisch — bought it in 2004, back before he was indicted for taking bribes from his clients. In 2011, authorities arrested him after learning of the scheme, in which Fisch promised clients he’d pass along million-dollar payments to justice officials, but instead pocketed them along with a partner.

Last March, a U.S. appeals court ruled to uphold the charges against him. He’s now serving a 15-year federal sentence.

Behind his former house, he left behind this non-original apartment as well:

The townhome owners closed on the 6,600-sq.-ft. property earlier this year.

Photos and map: Houston Archaeological and Historical Commission

Close Quarters on Columbia St.

26 Comment

  • this is what happens when you give too much power to busy bodies.

  • They allowed the houses on each side to be built?
    And can’t move a bungalow a couple of feet?

  • They seriously want to go through the effort and expense of moving the house 7 feet over and 5 feet back?

  • There is nothing at all wrong with that bungalow or its siting. The brick house, on the other hand, is atrocious.

  • Wait, they just wanted to scooch the bungalow? Whatever for?

  • This would be comical it wasn’t so ridiculous. So those two new 2-story homes (which most likely replaced a similar looking bungalow) on either side are *OK*, but they can’t move an undistinguished bungalow a few feet over? SMH

  • What is so bad about having a well-maintained bungalow in your peripheral vision?
    You own it: Make it even prettier!
    I’m pretty sure it costs the same to move a house 20′ as it does to move it 20 miles…
    Maybe the Big Plan was to have the house-mover “accidentally” hit the gas and be unable to stop the rig before he was in Richmond!

  • Ridiculous that the new owners wanted to scooch it. Ridiculous that they were not able to.

  • You all must be new here. The historic districts did not exist when the houses on either side were built. So, no. HAHC did not approve the houses on each side of that bungalow. In fact, HAHC was created to make sure that houses like that never get built in the historic districts.

    The decision to deny the request to move the house is sound. Almost all the bungalows like this one in the Heights are offset on the lot to allow for a driveway on one side. Once you let one owner move the building to the middle of the property, everyone will want to so they can add more sq ft in back. Give them an inch (or 7’8″)

  • Old School has it right folks.

  • On the brick house, is that “architecture” equivalent of the monobrow?

  • I just came here for proper usage of the term “scooch.” That is all.

  • WTF is up with that parapet on the canopy? A clumsy attempt at concealing AC condensing units?

  • LOL – The real story here is how did the new brick town home become designed the way it is? What were the behind the scenes decisions? Are there other properties? Why?

  • Front yards are for children and plants. Alleys are for garage access. End of story.

  • The monstrosity of a house is a crime.

  • I’m still curious how attorney Fisch pocketed the payments and the partner.

  • What is on top of the TH, on the roof line?

  • Exactly what is original or worth preserving about that bungalow in its current state? The siding, doors and windows are straight off the rack at Home Depot, and the original porch was has been grossly mutilated.

    Let the owners move it over, but require them to restore the bungalow’s original exterior appearance in the process. Everybody wins.

  • That narrow ‘townhouse’ on the left is 6600 sq ft?? Maybe it has a basement. Or, the whole site (land) is 6600 sq ft. Just checking.

  • …and then the Big Plan (after the scooching) was to enclose the bungalow with the backyard fence and methodically dismantle it, unseen.
    Bits in the trash won’t be noticed.
    Five years later there’s a large side yard!

  • That is not a historic bungalow.

  • More money than sense–or taste, going by the architecture on their townhome they bought/built/whatever.

  • If the brick home wanted more room between them and the neighbor they should have built the brick monster a tad further away or not so honking huge, jeeze……

  • Thanks, Old School. And, thanks for the chuckle, Limestone. I guess the owners of the monster houses are afraid of felony cooties.

  • This weekend I asked Mrs. Bag if we could play “scooch the bungalow”. She just glared at me.