Please Note: COVID has reached “high” transmission levels in Montgomery Co. according to the CDC. Based on this information, the Paul Laurence Dunbar House has instituted a mandatory mask mandate of all staff and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, until such time that COVID transmission levels decrease in the county. Thank you for your cooperation.
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 African American history. The Paul Laurence Dunbar House is 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, one of America’s greatest poets, 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 General Assembly dedicated the house as a memorial to Dunbar and delegated its care to the Ohio History Connection. The Paul Laurence Dunbar House opened to the public in 1938.
The turn-of-the-20th-century house exhibits Dunbar’s literary treasures, many of his personal items and his family’s furnishings. Among the items on display are Dunbar’s bicycle, given to him 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 that President Theodore Roosevelt presented to him.
A project completed in 2003 has returned the Dunbar House to its appearance at the time when Paul Laurence Dunbar and his mother, Matilda, lived there. Dunbar lived in the house from 1904 until he died in 1906; his mother lived there from 1904 until she died in 1934. An on-site visitor center features panels telling the story of Dunbar’s life.
The Paul Laurence Dunbar House is managed locally by Dayton History. Tours are led by National Park Service staff.
The site is also an American Writers Museum affiliate.