Ohio History Connection Logo

Paul Laurence Dunbar House

The first state memorial in Ohio to honor an African American


Tour the restored home of poet Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872–1906), who gained international acclaim as a writer and voice for equality for African Americans. In 1936, the Ohio General Assembly dedicated the house as a memorial to Dunbar—the first state memorial in Ohio to honor an African American. The Paul Laurence Dunbar House is a part of the National Park's Service's Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park and the Dayton Aviation Trail. Average visit time: Allow 1+ hours


Paul Laurence Dunbar is one of America’s greatest poets and he spent almost his entire life in Ohio. He published hundreds of poems, as well as novels, short stories, and song lyrics. He is considered one of the most important figures in African American and American history, in the company of Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and his Dayton neighbors Orville and Wilbur Wright. In 1936, the Ohio Legislature dedicated the house as a memorial to Dunbar—the first state memorial in Ohio to honor an African American—and delegated its care to the Ohio History Connection. In 1938, the home was opened to the public.

The Paul Laurence Dunbar House is an Italianate turn-of-the-century structure and the final home of the poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. It exhibits his literary treasures, many of his personal items and his family's furnishings. Among items on display are Dunbar's bicycle built by the Wright brothers; the desk and chair where the poet composed much of his work; his collection of Native American art; and a ceremonial sword presented to Dunbar by President Theodore Roosevelt. As a result of a 2002-2003 capital improvement project, the Dunbar has been completely renovated and restored to furnishings and wallpapers common, and some instances exactly, of the time period when Paul and his mother Matilda lived in the house. A new visitor center was also constructed on site, containing interpretive panels chronicling Dunbar's life.

The Paul Laurence Dunbar House is managed locally by Dayton History. Tours are led by National Park Service interpreters.

Related Blog Posts and News Stories