McBride Building/Championship Park

The semi-circular terraced park on the other side of Main Street from the M&M building wasn’t always an open space. Until 1982, there was a small multi-storey building there, without access to Main Street (entrance was at the corner of Girard and Wood). (See the building here, across Main) This building was called the McBride building after its owner, Geter McBride. The company housed within “McBride Southwest Moving and Storage Company” had an address of 2 Main, and took up approximately 13,000 sq feet of frontage along the confluence of White Oak and Buffalo Bayou.

The story goes that before the purchase by the University system, the building sat along the old MKT rail line, which is now the White Oak bike trail, and the track curved just there at the McBride building to continue down to the ship channel along Buffalo Bayou. A train moving too fast down this curve ran off the tracks and directly into the McBride building, sending a jet of flame from the natural gas line that rose higher than the 11th floor of the M&M. Insurance paid for the repair to the building, but then, a short while later, another train collided with the building and the insurance company would not pay again. In the early 1980s the building was in sad repair and the UH System attempted several times to buy it. Since a final purchase price could not be agreed upon, the University took the owners to court and had the building purchased by way of condemning it. It was then torn down and 10 years later, made an easement for Harris County Flood Control District, who wanted to construct concrete and stone bulkheads to create an embankment. Charles Tapley, a well-known architect in Houston, lobbied extensively to not only create bulkheads, but to beautify the area. With his help and the help of Terry Hershey, the area was re-imagined and renamed Championship Park. The original idea was to dedicate plaques to all the Houston-area championship sports teams. Unfortunately, since the park was owned not by the City but by the County, a champion for Championship Park never emerged. There are, however, still two cypress trees planted in the park–one dedicated to Terry Hershey and the other to Rudy Tomjanovich, head coach of the World Champion Houston Rockets in 1994 and 1995.