McNair Manor was named for attorney and businessman, William McNair. Born in 1836, McNair served as county attorney and mayor of St. Anthony from 1869 to 1871. In 1876 he was the Democratic nominee for United States Representative but lost to Jacob H. Stewart. In 1883 he declined the nomination to run for governor. Among his many real estate holdings in the Minneapolis was a 1,000-acre farm that stretched across north Minneapolis and down to Brownie Lake. Shortly before his death in 1885 he made arrangements with the Mineapolis Park Board for donation land that would create a four-mile parkway parkway from Fairview Park in North Minneapolis to Cedar Lake.
After World War I the Ewald Brothers purchased five acres of the old McNair farm and built a dairy pasteurizing plant on Xerxes and and Golden Valley Road.The Ewalds built a horse barn across the street that later became the parking lot for their milk delivery trucks. In 1923, the Ewald Family left the McNair farm and most of it was divided into lots. A succession of housing developments in the area North of 19th Avenue dubbed themselves “McNair Manor”. Further North in Robbinsdale the area was referred to as “Mud Manor”. Several real estate companies tried and failed to fill the subdivision in the 1920’s and 30’s. Streets were laid and a water tower was constructed. In 1924 McNair Manor developers suffered a a public relations blow when they offered to sell their water to the City of Robbinsdale and the city rejected the offer due to the poor quality of the water. The water tower was removed in 1935. A couple dozen beautiful home were built along Zenith and York Avenues, but the area remained largely vacant until after World War II