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TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas – A $25,000 grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority will help pay for fresh paint and exterior repairs to a historic two-room schoolhouse that now serves as a community center near Manor.
The Community Development Partnership Program grant, along with $43,000 in matching funds, will allow the non-profit group Friends of Manda School to better preserve the building in the New Sweden area of east Travis County. Manda School was built in 1915 primarily to educate the children of Swedish immigrants who settled in the area in the 1800s, and the schoolhouse moved to its current site in eastern Travis County in the mid-1940s. It remained a school until 1963, when it was turned into a community center after its students were transferred to schools in Manor or Elgin.
The building is the only former two-room schoolhouse in Travis County still used by the public.
In 2009, a CDPP grant from LCRA helped pay for major renovations to the building, allowing the historic schoolhouse-turned-community center to become a popular site for weddings, family reunions, anniversary parties and other group gatherings. Now, the site needs work to preserve the building’s integrity and make it attractive as a venue as it reopens to the public, said David Erickson and his wife, Susan, both board members of Friends of Manda School.
“A few years ago, the paint started failing, and it became a bit rundown,” board secretary Susan Erickson said. “We realized it needed a little bit more preservation work.”
David Erickson, the board president, attended Manda School as a child and said the building remains largely the same as it was when he was a student there.
“We’ll make spot repairs on the building’s exterior, but the interesting thing about the school building is that most of the original material is intact,” he said. This grant really put us over the top for this project. We get it painted and we’re ready to go again.”
Once the repairs are completed, the former schoolhouse will continue to benefit the community by providing an affordable venue for family and civic events.
“The area is growing very fast, so we’re trying to get this community center up and going so people can interact and meet the other people moving here,” Susan Erickson said. “Every little community needs a gathering place.”
The community grant is one of 25 grants awarded recently through LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program, which helps volunteer fire departments, local governments, emergency responders and nonprofit organizations fund capital improvement projects in LCRA’s wholesale electric, water and transmission service areas. The program is part of LCRA’s effort to give back to the communities it serves.
Applications for the next round of grants will be accepted in July. More information is available at lcra.org/cdpp.
The Lower Colorado River Authority serves customers and communities throughout Texas by managing the lower Colorado River; generating and transmitting electric power; providing a clean, reliable water supply; and offering outdoor adventures at more than 40 parks along the Colorado River from the Texas Hill Country to the Gulf Coast. LCRA and its employees are committed to fulfilling our mission to enhance the quality of life of the Texans we serve through water stewardship, energy and community service. LCRA was created by the Texas Legislature in 1934 and receives no state appropriations. For more information, visit lcra.org.