Thursday, September 14, 2017

Manda Community Center : A fine example of historic preservation done right.

From 2016 to 2017, the Friends of Manda School have begun maintenance and upkeep of the former Manda School building as an attempt of historic perseveration. Several window panels have been replaced and window screens have been added to all windows of this school. All wooden floors have been flattened and resurfaced to be up to code for building standards and code standards. Central AC heating is now connected to this building.

Every single year the Friends of Manda School clean the school building and land property by mowing the grass and terminating insects from hidden corners. Flooring has been resurfaced by volunteers from Friends of Manda School.

Every single year the Friends of Manda School hold meetings here at the Manda Community Center. Mainly meetings are about future regards of Manda Community Center and funding for historic preservation toward this building which are held by the Board of Directors for Friends of Manda School. Community functions, social gatherings, programs, and various meetings are still held inside this building. Friends of Manda School plans to keep the Manda School open as the Manda Community Center in Manda, Texas which is near the town of Manor, Texas.


Citizens from the Manda community urged commissioners from the Travis County Public Schools (Travis County Common School District) to build a schoolhouse in the Manda community in 1914. Commissioners from the Travis County Public Schools agreed to allocate funding construction of a schoolhouse in Manda, Texas.

By 1915, the Manda community voted on a one issue to construct a new school building that was during the spring of that year. Construction for the Manda School building lasted from the summer to the fall of 1915. Although the construction for the Manda School building mostly operated during the summer, it continued in the fall season. School was held in the New Sweden Lutheran Church on New Sweden Church Road during construction.


The Manda School was opened in 1916 as a two-room schoolhouse which was a single story building structure for the Manda Common School District in the settlement of Manda, Texas. Manda School was spread out into a 2 room plan incorporated in the school building structure sitting on piers. 1st grade through 12th grade were taught in this two-room schoolhouse. Manda School is the only remaining two room school house in Travis County in Austin, Texas from the 1900s era and 1910s decade.

Manda School was named after Amanda Bengtson Gustafson who was sister of the settlement’s postmaster the same year. Manda is a short diminutive for Amanda. The name Manda was shortened from the name Amanda. Many students who had attended this school had Swedish ancestry in their family background and came from Swedish families.

The Manda School eventually became known as the Manda Schoolhouse in 1916. 1916 was the same year the community of Manda, Texas was granted its own school district by the State of Texas and Travis County Public Schools which was called Manda Common School District. Manda Common School District included students from neighboring communities such as Manor, New Sweden, Littig, and Elgin.

Historians have agreed that the Manda School was the original New Sweden School building. Prior to 1916, the Manda School building was used as the New Sweden School building in the New Sweden School District. There were 32 rural school houses with similarity to the one in Manda, but the Manda Schoolhouse is the only one that remains in all of Travis County/Austin. The name New Sweden/Manda Schoolhouse has given to the school by local historians.


New Sweden School, Gregg School, Carlson School, Kimbro School, Willow Ranch School, and several other schools along with school districts were consolidated to form into the Manda Common School District in 1947. More schools and school districts were consolidated to form into the Manda Common School District.

In 1951, the Manda School contributed $20,000 towards the Travis County polio campaign and program. Half of the monetary amount of $20,000 was sent to the national foundation (Polio Foundation) which performed the research for a cure to polio. A news article from the February 01, 1951 edition of the Austin American-Statesman newspaper argued that the monetary amount the amount contributed in the drive won’t even pay their salaries.


The Manda School District was dissolved in 1960 and was divided among Manor ISD, Pflugerville ISD, and Elgin ISD. Most students who attended the Manda School were bussed to Manor ISD though due to proximity towards Manor. When Manda School District was dissolved in 1960, this permanently closed down Manda School.

1960 is the same year Manda Community Club was formed. Despite the Manda Community Club being formed the Manda School building more or less sat abandoned. Manda Community Club tried their hardest to preserve the historic Manda Schoolhouse but ultimately the organization dissolved in 1968. From 1968 on, the Manda School more or less sat abandoned with no meaningful use. The school building still stood in 1969.


Manda School slowly but surely fell into a state of disrepair. That was until the Friends of Manda School (Friendship of Manda School) decided to make the former Manda School building into a community center which would become the Manda Community Center in 2006.

Manda School is now operated and preserved by the Friends of Manda School (Friendship of Manda School). Friends of Manda School is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of this school building. Every single year the Friends of Manda School clean the school building and land property by mowing the grass and terminating insects from hidden corners. The Manda community along with several volunteers have been restoring the Manda School building to its original condition as found decades earlier.

The Manda Community Center is a fine example of historic preservation done right. We need to urge commissioners of the Travis County Historic Commission to preserve historic buildings such as the Manda School. With help from both local citizens and volunteers, we can keep and preserve buildings such as this one. To this day, the Manda School operates as the Manda Community Center. The school building now serves as the reminder of the early settlement of Manda, Texas.


Manda School/Manda Community Center is located at 16717 Manda Carlson Road, Manor, Texas, US 78653.

2 comments:

  1. Great job writing a news article about how historic preservation is important and about the Manda School, Mixerr.

    ReplyDelete