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Paul Laurence Dunbar (June 27, 1872 – February 9, 1906) was a gifted and prolific American poet and author who was best known in his lifetime for his dialect work and his use of metaphor and rhetoric, often in a conversational style. In his short career he produced over 400 works including twelve books of poetry, four novels, four books of short stories, and wrote the lyrics to many popular songs. Dunbar became the first African American to support himself financially through his writing.
Dunbar purchased this house for his mother in 1904, and he lived there with her until his death from tuberculosis in 1906. In rapidly failing health, Dunbar continued to write, and he completed his last works in the house. The Dunbar House appears today much as it did at the time of the poet's death. The house was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962.
June 27, 2022 will mark the sesquicentennial anniversary of Dunbar’s birth. To commemorate this momentous occasion, the "Dunbar 150" project was created to shine a spotlight on Dunbar’s literary contributions and share details of his life and legacy with the world. This multi-year initiative is made possible by collaborations between the National Park Service, Dayton area and national community leaders, organizations, educators, and Dunbar enthusiasts.
Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park is in a unique position to bring national prominence and 21st century relevance to Dunbar’s works. This project has strengthened partnerships with Dayton area schools and community organizations including the Ohio History Connection (OHC), the National Aviation Heritage Alliance (NAHA), Planned2Give, Woodland Cemetery, the University of Dayton, Dayton Live, the Paul Laurence Dunbar branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the Wright-Dunbar Neighborhood Association, and the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce, Ohio.
The "Dunbar 150" project officially launched in February 2021 and will sunset in February 2023. The commemorative "Dunbar 150" flagship event will be held on the evening of Saturday, June 25, 2022 at the grand Victoria Theater in Dayton, Ohio, and will feature recitations of Dunbar’s works by several world-renowned poets, spoken word performances, musical selections, and more! Honored guests include internationally acclaimed poet, author, and educator, Nikki Giovanni, University of Dayton professor of history (emeritus), Dr. Hertbert Woodward Martin, and local historian, Laverne Sci.
Individuals and organizations are encouraged to organize their own Dunbar-themed events in support of the "Dunbar 150" project. Event ideas can include curriculum-based programs, community tribute events, spoken word events, art displays, theatre and artistic performances, and poetry slams.For more information about how to get involved, please contact Angela Stewart, Operations Lead for Dunbar 150. Whenever possible, organizers are asked to brand their events #Dunbar150 on their respective social media platforms to help build awareness.
Contact Information: For more information about the Dunbar 150 project, please contact: DAAV_Dunbar150@nps.gov.
The Paul Laurence Dunbar House Historic Site is OPEN to the public Friday through Sunday during the hours of 10:00 am to 4:00 pm (closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day). Tours take place throughout the day and admission is free. Last tour of the day is at 3:30 PM. You can start your visit at the visitor center entrance located on Edison Street (just around the corner from the Dunbar house) where you can view a movie and see artifacts and exhibits dedicated to the life of Dunbar. Visit the Directions page for detailed directions to the Paul Laurence Dunbar House Historic Site. The house is located at 219 N. Paul Laurence Dunbar Street, Dayton, Ohio, 45402.
A project through the Save America's Treasures Grant Program, which helps preserve nationally significant historic properties and collections, funded restoration work on the Paul Laurence Dunbar House in 1999.