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Paul Laurence Dunbar House

Paul Laurence Dunbar House
Paul Laurence Dunbar Home
Location 219 Paul Laurence Dunbar Street, Dayton, Ohio

39°45′20″N 84°13′8″W / 39.75556°N 84.21889°W / 39.75556; -84.21889Coordinates: 39°45′20″N 84°13′8″W / 39.75556°N 84.21889°W / 39.75556; -84.21889{{#coordinates:39|45|20|N|84|13|8|W|region:US-OH_type:landmark |primary |name=

Built 1894
Architect Unknown
Architectural style No style listed
Governing body State
NRHP Reference # 66000619
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 15, 1966[1]
Designated NHL December 29, 1962[2]

The Paul Laurence Dunbar House was the 1904-1906 home of poet Paul Laurence Dunbar in Dayton, Ohio. It is a historic house museum owned by the state of Ohio and operated by Dayton History on behalf of the Ohio Historical Society. It is located at 219 Paul Laurence Dunbar Street (formerly called North Summit Street) in Dayton.


Dunbar had a long association with Dayton. He was born there in 1872,[3] the son of former slaves, and his first poems were printed in the Dayton Herald in 1888. His first book, Oak and Ivy (1892) was published in Dayton by the United Brethren Publishing House as well.[4]:125

After serving as an elevator operator in Dayton and meeting some success for his writings, Dunbar took a job in Washington, D.C., at the Library of Congress.

Dunbar purchased the home for his mother, Matilda Dunbar, in June 1904. The house is an eight-room brick structure on a quiet street.[5] When Dunbar separated from his wife Alice Ruth Moore in 1902, he moved in as well.

By the time Dunbar moved into the house, he was very sick with tuberculosis. He also suffered from alcoholism.[4]:133 It was in this home that Dunbar died in 1906.[6] His death that February was signified by a black wreath which hung on the front door of the home.[7]

After Dunbar's death, his mother Matilda lived here for the remainder of her life and kept his books, manuscripts, and study as he left them.[8] In 1932, it was reported that Matilda held an open house every year on June 27, the anniversary of her son's birth.[9] She died in 1936.[8]

Modern history

The home was purchased by the state of Ohio in 1936;[8] that same year it was dedicated as the first state memorial to an African-American.[9] It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1962 and became part of Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park in 1992.[2][10] It is a component of the National Aviation Heritage Area.[11]

A visitors center includes displays memorabilia relating to Dunbar's life and work.[12] The visitors center is housed in a neighboring building. The property includes an old barn.


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. 
  2. ^ a b "Paul Lawrence Dunbar House". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 
  3. ^ Kraft, Stephanie (1979). No Castles on Main Street: American Authors and Their Homes. Rand McNally. p. 178. ISBN 0-528-81828-7. 
  4. ^ a b Brasch, Walter M. (1981). Black English and the Mass Media. University of Massachusetts Press. ISBN 0-87023-335-1. 
  5. ^ Betts, Glynne Robinson (1981). Writers in Residence: American Authors At Home. Viking Press. p. 120. ISBN 0-670-79108-3. 
  6. ^ Alexander, Eleanor C. (2001). Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow: The Tragic Courtship and Marriage of Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore. New York: New York University Press. p. 192. ISBN 0-8147-0696-7. 
  7. ^ McKissack, Pat (1984). Paul Laurence Dunbar: A Poet to Remember. Scholastic Library Publications. p. 118. ISBN 0-516-43209-5. 
  8. ^ a b c Curtis, Nancy C. (1996). Black Heritage Sites: An African American Odyssey and Finder's Guide. ALA Editions. p. 507. ISBN 0-8389-0643-5. 
  9. ^ a b Trubek, Anne (2011). A Skeptic's Guide to Writers' Houses. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 115. ISBN 978-0-8122-4292-8. 
  10. ^ Mendinghall, Joseph S. (May 12, 1975). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: the Paul Laurence Dunbar House" (PDF). National Park Service.  and Accompanying 5 photos, exterior and interior, from 1975 and undated PDF (32 KB)
  11. ^ "Home of the Wright Brothers". National Aviation Heritage Area. Retrieved 16 March 2012. 
  12. ^ Cangor, George (1997). Old Roads of the Midwest. University of Michigan Press. p. 109. ISBN 978-0-472-08288-9. 

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