It’s a colorful building that’s been attracting visitors for over 100 years. Built by a “Champion” of business and civil duties.
The Champion Building, with its 200 species of fish painted on the walls is a historical gem in the Rio Grande Valley.
Its Port Isabel’s oldest mercantile establishment, constructed a year before the start of the 20th century, the two-story Champion Building was a general store that was the community’s most vital center.
After purchasing the site of the store, Charles Champion, known for his generosity, purchased the whole town site of Point Isabel, where he refused to zone or collect rent from poor fisherman.
In 1906, the local fisherman and artist, Jose Morales painted the fish in order to promote sport fishing in the area. The over 200 images represent the species that can be found in the Laguna Madre Bay and the Gulf of Mexico off the beaches of South Padre Island.
“Anybody that’s driven by this building the first thing that pops out in their mind are the fish that are painted on the walls there are 216 species of gulf fish,” said Eugene Fernandez, commissioner of the Cameron County Historical Commission.
Over the decades, the mural has been restored several times, and continues to fascinate visitors from around the world, like it did one hundred years ago.
Recently, the Museums of Port Isabel commissioned local artist, Angel Hernandez, to restore the 212 fishes that grace the building.