Mayor Rita Jonse, who grew up in Manor, has witnessed the town’s growth and challenges since nearby jobs brought new residents in the early 2000s. (Photo by Jay Godwin)



Once Travis County's second largest city, Manor gearing up for rapid growth

By Ed Crowell

    Old and new reside in stark contrast around Manor, the fast-growing town with a pioneer history just east of Austin.
    A new city hall and municipal court building opened in the fall. It sparkles with a modern glass and stone design. Around the corner, the dilapidated nearly century-old Chamberlain-Eppright house, once home to descendants of two of Manor’s founding families, awaits city restoration.
    Along U.S. 290 that bisects the community, a Wal-Mart was scheduled to open in mid-February to join other businesses eager to serve the spread of new subdivisions nearby. A few blocks south, the area that Mayor Rita Jonse calls “old town” retains a few businesses and small, aging homes. 
    Jonse said a community center in the old area is needed. She also would like to see an H-E-B built in Manor, but she said the company tells her there are not enough family “rooftops” — yet.
    “I expect Manor to grow a lot more and you can just see it coming,” she said.
    A medical complex with an urgent care facility is under construction. When completed, people won’t have to travel into Austin for treatment. A population of about 7,500 now lives in Manor and along the city limits lines, said the first-term mayor. The U.S. census recorded just 1,204 people in 2000 but 5,204 in 2010.
    Jonse’s priorities are to ensure enough water for growth and to lead the pro-business City Council while keeping the tax rate low. Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative, which has provided electricity to the town since 1958, recognizes the swelling population and in 2006 built a member service center just off U.S. 290.
    Manor’s rich history dates back to the earliest days of the Texas Republic. Namesake James B. Manor was a Tennessee buddy of Sam Houston and followed him to Texas. Manor built a house on Gilleland Creek in 1836 and it became the first stagecoach stop out of Austin. After Houston won the Battle of San Jacinto and became president of the new republic, he was a frequent visitor in Manor’s home.
    The town, once the second largest in Travis County, grew and prospered as a cotton and railroad center into the 1900s. But two major fires destroyed many of the town’s businesses not long after Manor was incorporated in 1913. Cotton crops declined from boll weevil infestations.

    This is part of a series of monthly profiles focusing on some of Bluebonnet’s earliest commercial accounts — businesses that still get their power from the co-op. 

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