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Ennis, Texas
Emporium Building in Downtown Ennis
Emporium Building in Downtown Ennis
Location of Ennis, Texas
Location of Ennis, Texas
Ellis County Ennis.svg
Country United StatesUnited States
State TexasTexas
County Ellis
Founded 1871
 • Type Council-Manager
 • Total 33.06 sq mi (85.62 km2)
 • Land 32.53 sq mi (84.26 km2)
 • Water 0.53 sq mi (1.36 km2)
538 ft (164 m)
 • Total 18,513
 • Estimate 
 • Density 625.75/sq mi (241.60/km2)
Demonym(s) Ennisite
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s) 972
FIPS code 48-24348
GNIS feature ID 1335474

Ennis is a city in eastern Ellis County, Texas, United States. The population was 19,934 as of 2018, up from 16,454 at the 2000 census. It is the third largest city in Ellis County, with the county seat of Waxahachie being the largest and the city of Midlothian being the second largest. Ennis is home to the National Polka Festival.


Ennis High School1
Completed in 1916, Ennis High School operated from this building until the school relocated to its present-day location in 1982. After briefly serving as the city's Junior High, it is now known today as the Alamo Education Center, home to the school district's alternative education programs.
Moore House
The Moore House is one of several dozen historical homes in the Templeton-McCanless Residential Historic District.
Old City Mills, located east of Downtown.

In 1872 the Houston and Central Texas Railroad (H&TC) arrived at the spot that would become Ennis. The city is named for Cornelius Ennis, an official of the railroad. Ennis served as Mayor of Houston (1856–57), and as a director of the Houston Tap and Brazoria Railway and H&TC.

Between 1874 and 1890, the population grew from 300 to 3,000. Many of the settlers came from the war-torn Confederate States of America and others came from the war-ravaged European nations that later became Czechoslovakia.

In 1891, the H&TC chose Ennis as its northern division headquarters in an agreement requiring that Ennis provide water for the railroad. The machine shops and roundhouse employed several hundred men. One condition of the agreement was that as long as Ennis was able to furnish water the shops could not be moved from the community. The city built the first of three lakes for this purpose in 1892, followed by another in 1895, and the last in 1940

The railroad also led to the expansion of the cotton industry, providing access to foreign and domestic markets through the port of Houston. By 1920, a total of 152,601 bales of cotton were ginned and shipped from Ellis County, the most of any county in America. The Ennis Chamber of Commerce adopted the slogan 'Where Railroads and Cotton Fields Meet."

Railroads and cotton produced the wealth that could be seen in the residential development of the city. Residents built beautiful churches of many different denominations and numerous fraternal organizations met regularly. Elegant houses along “the Avenue” and north were accompanied by dozens of Folk Victorian houses and Craftsman style bungalows.

By mid-twentieth century Ennis had become a modern community with schools, three movie theaters, several drugstores, banks and automobile dealerships. The sons and daughters of early settlers had developed new traditions like the National Polka Festival and the Ennis Bluebonnet Trail. Moreover, the city was connected to Dallas to the north and Houston to the South by Interstate Highway 45. Since then, citizens of Ennis have been able to experience the best of two worlds, participation in the attractions of a large, dynamic city and the familiar street-scape of a unique, nurturing community.

The commercial strip along Ennis Ave. between Downtown and Interstate 45 was hit by a tornado in the May 15–17, 2013 tornado outbreak, rendering 4 homes uninhabitable and damaging as many as 55 businesses. The damage caused by the EF1 impacted the National Register Historic District and many of the other businesses in town, some of which are pending demolition. However, these damaged buildings were purchased by developers in the hopes of revitalizing the Downtown Historical District. These revitalization plans were implemented in the Downtown Comprehensive Plan, and the city was re-admitted to the Texas Main Street Program in January 2015. Today, the downtown area is home to several successful start-ups, with future plans calling for further emphasis on local business, pedestrian friendliness, and the development of parks, plazas, and new urbanist development along the outskirts of the district.


Ennis is in the northeastern region of Texas, in eastern Ellis County. Interstate 45 passes through the east side of the city, with access from Exits 247 through 255. I-45 leads north 35 miles (56 km) to Dallas and south 205 miles (330 km) to Houston. U.S. Route 287 curves around the south side of Ennis and leads northwest 15 miles (24 km) to Waxahachie, the Ellis County seat. Texas State Highway 34 passes through the center of Ennis, leading northeast 26 miles (42 km) to Kaufman and southwest 20 miles (32 km) to Italy. Waco is 73 miles (117 km) to the southwest.

Ennis has a total area of 28.2 square miles (73.0 km2), of which 27.6 square miles (71.6 km2) is land and 0.54 square miles (1.4 km2), or 1.85%, is water.


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Ennis has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 1,351
1890 2,171 60.7%
1900 4,919 126.6%
1910 5,669 15.2%
1920 7,224 27.4%
1930 7,069 −2.1%
1940 7,087 0.3%
1950 7,815 10.3%
1960 9,347 19.6%
1970 11,046 18.2%
1980 12,102 9.6%
1990 14,278 18.0%
2000 16,454 15.2%
2010 18,513 12.5%
2019 (est.) 20,357 10.0%

As of the census of 2000, there were 16,045 people, 5,335 households, and 3,947 families residing in the city. The population density was 891.7 people per square mile (344.4/km2). There were 5,618 housing units at an average density of 312.2 per square mile (120.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 66.57% White, 14.71% African American, 0.47% Native American, 0.29% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 15.93% from other races, and 2.03% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 33.19% of the population.

There were 5,335 households, out of which 38.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.4% were married couples living together, 14.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.0% were non-families. 22.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.95 and the average family size was 3.45.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 30.4% under the age of 18, 10.6% from 18 to 24, 27.7% from 25 to 44, 18.5% from 45 to 64, and 12.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $38,923, and the median income for a family was $44,608. Males had a median income of $28,585 versus $22,855 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,677. About 10.4% of families and 13.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.3% of those under age 18 and 15.7% of those age 65 or over.


The annual National Polka Festival which features Czech cuisine, polka music, dancing, and a parade is held on Memorial Day weekend. The festival started in 1967 by a group of men who thought their Czech heritage should be honored. There is also a contest to find who the Duke and Dutchess of Ennis will be for the year. During the 3 day festival, the Ennis Polka Run takes place to help fund the Rotary Club and the Children's Reading Club of Ennis.

Ennis has an annual Texas Bluebonnet festival during the month of April. During this time, thousands of tourists come to see the bloom of these wildflowers. Ennis was designated by the 1997 State Legislature as the "Official Bluebonnet City of Texas" and home to the "Official Bluebonnet Trail of Texas."


Galaxy Drive-in movie Ennis, Texas
The Galaxy Drive-In Theater opened in 2004 in Garrett, Texas, just north of Ennis on I-45.

Lake Bardwell is a reservoir managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers located 5 miles south of Ennis. It is a flood-control reservoir in the Trinity River Basin and a conservation pool in the Trinity Valley Authority. Surrounding the lake is a park system consisting of Big Mustang Creek Park, Little Mustang Creek Park, High View Park, Love Park, Mott Park, and Highview Marina, all of which offer boat ramps. The lake and parks offer hiking, horseback riding, camping, fishing, and sport boating opportunities.

The Galaxy Drive-In movie theatre opened in 2004 and draws visitors from around the area, and is most notable for being one of only two drive-in theaters operating in the DFW Metroplex.

Ennis is home to the Texas Motorplex, a quarter-mile drag racing facility built in 1986 by former funny car driver Billy Meyer. It annually hosts the NHRA O'Reilly Fall Nationals each September, when hundreds of professional and amateur drag racers compete for over $2 million in prize money.

The Ennis Railroad and Cultural Heritage Museum is housed in the former Van Noy restaurant building. The museum's collections include: railroad and cultural memorabilia including items related to the Houston and Central Texas Railroad; a large diorama of the old engine roundhouse that once existed just north of the museums location; a large collection of rare china; and a MKT caboose.

The Kachina Prairie is one of the last remaining examples of untouched Texas blackland prairies. Ennis' first bluebonnet trail was marked through this area in 1939.

In popular culture

Scenes from the following movies were filmed in Ennis: Deadly Blessing (1981) starring Sharon Stone; On Valentine’s Day (1986) starring Hallie Foote and Michael Higgins; and Walking Tall: The Payback (2007) with Kevin Sorbo and Haley Ramm.

Scenes from the documentary Flight of the Butterflies (2012) were filmed on Ennis' bluebonnet trails.

In March 21, 2009, the TV show Pinks: All Out hosted a contest at the Texas Motorplex.


Education is administered by the Ennis Independent School District, which consists of two early childhood centers, four elementary schools, two intermediate schools, one junior high, and Ennis High School. Secondary education offers several extracurricular programs, such as UIL (University Interscholastic League) Academics and Sports, TSA (Technology Student Association), and the National FFA Organization. Sports offered in either junior high and up or exclusively high school include baseball, football, basketball, volleyball, tennis, cross country running, track, powerlifting, softball, soccer, and golf.

Notable people

  • Darrell Lance Abbott, musician and songwriter, co-founder of Pantera and Damageplan
  • Ray Armstrong, college and professional football player
  • Bob Banner, producer, writer and director, co-producer of The Carol Burnett Show
  • Alfred H. Bennett, District Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas
  • Pam Bowers, college women's basketball coach
  • Gary Campbell, college football player and coach
  • Steve Collins, college football player
  • Chase Craig, writer-cartoonist. Worked with Dell Comics and Gold Key Comics
  • Jacobs Crawley, rodeo cowboy, saddle bronc racer
  • Jack Fields, Republican representative of Texas's 8th congressional district
  • Bob Finley, MLB catcher, Southwest Conference and AFL official, NFL referee
  • Walt Furnace, Republican representative of the Alaska House of Representatives
  • Tanya Godsey, musician, vocalist, and pianist
  • Graham Harrell, NFL and college football player, quarterback, coach, offensive coordinator. Lived in Ennis, attended and played football at Ennis High School
  • Hattie Leah Henenberg, lawyer, judge, appointed to the All-Woman Supreme Court
  • D. Van Holliday, theoretical and experimental physicist, acoustician
  • Kirby Baxter Holmes, gospel musician and pastor. Instrumental in Martin Luther King Jr.'s first touring visit to Texas in 1959
  • Charles Hudson, MLB starting pitcher
  • Jack Lummus, Medal of Honor recipient, 1st Lt. of the US Marine Corps, player for the New York Giants
  • Vincent Marshall, Canadian football player
  • Hix McCanless, architect, surveyor, civil engineer. Longtime resident, designed multiple homes in Ennis
  • Kendall Morris, news anchor, Miss Texas 2011
  • Robert Randall Onstead, grocer and businessman, founder of Randall's Food Markets
  • Ginger Rogers, actress, singer, dancer. Briefly lived in Ennis during childhood. In an appearance on the Phil Donahue Show, she describes Ennis as "a quiet place and very pretty, just a little country place with tree-lined streets."
  • Rabon Tarrant, jump blues and jazz drummer, singer and songwriter. Composer of blues standard "Blues with a Feeling"
  • Ernest Tubb, The "Texas Troubadour", country music singer and songwriter, Country Music Hall of Fame inductee. Born in nearby Crisp, Texas
  • Mary Walker, World Barrel Racing Champion, 2013 National Cowgirl Hall of Fame inductee
  • Edward Whitacre Jr., former chairman and CEO of AT&T Inc., General Motors, former national president of the Boy Scouts of America

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