San Antonio commercial real estate lessor Mitch McManus purchased Old Oak Square, 305 Main St. in Marble Falls, in 2016. Photo by Sherri Fitzpatrick
Editor’s Note: This story was written by Marble Falls High School junior Marshall Henderson and Falls Career High School junior Sherri Fitzpatrick, who visited Victory Media, home of DailyTrib.com, for the Rotary Club of Marble Falls’ Career Day, on Jan. 25.
Old Oak Square at 305 Main St. in downtown Marble Falls has become a gathering place for residents in search of community, the goal of owner Mitch McManus, who purchased the property in 2016.
“Ever since I bought this, I’ve tried to figure out how to make this courtyard the community square,” said the San Antonio commercial real estate lessor.
“This is the culmination of exactly what I’ve been doing for 40 years,” he said.
McManus discovered the Highland Lakes on a visit to his business partner’s lakehouse on Lake LBJ. After hearing about H-E-B’s plan to build a large store on RR 1431, and realizing the Texas supermarket chain had identified Marble Falls as a place of growth, McManus purchased the square.
“(H-E-B) has some fancy studies,” he said. “A lot fancier than anything I could ever access or afford. When they said they were building a 110,000-square-foot store there, I said, ‘That’s it. We’re going in full blast.’”
After the purchase, McManus studied the history of Old Oak Square at the Marble Falls Public Library and discovered it had once been a lumberyard.
“I love history,” he said.
The space was also used as a funeral home, leading many locals to believe the square might have a ghostly tenant. McManus doesn’t buy it.
“There’s supposedly ghosts,” he said. “I haven’t seen them, but I like the mystery of them.”
One historical fact that McManus failed to confirm in his research concerned rumors that the old oak tree for which the square is named was used to hang criminals.
“I can’t find it in the pictures,” he said. “I suspect it is a little bit of a creative narrative.”
Due to the site’s age, McManus has had to complete major overhauls to its infrastructure. Recent work included replacing air-conditioning units, refurbishing sewer lines, and expanding space at Adriano’s.
McManus is currently working to increase ADA access to the square by building ramps to its entrance.
“It should be completed in the next two to three weeks,” he said of the recent construction.
McManus also added a stage, which is free to use for student-led bands and choirs as well as nonprofits.
The stage is also home to Music on Main, a free, 130-night concert series that opened in 2023. McManus and organizers are revising the series in 2024 to avoid the worst of the summer heat.
“Nobody would sit outside when it’s 108 degrees, but I already had booked the bands,” he said.
The 2024 series will be presented in two parts: a spring installment from Feb. 29-June 15 and a fall installment starting in mid-September.
“I’ve cut it down to 15 groups that were my favorites, and it’s going to be awesome,” McManus said.
The free concerts speak to his mission of making the square a place for everyone in the Marble Falls community to enjoy.
“I wanted Old Oak Square to be the destination that people first think of for gathering,” he said. “That’s kind of the idea.”