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exterior view from the street of front of the paul laurence dunbar house in dayton Ohio

Only in Ohio: Paul Laurence Dunbar House

Learn about the life of the internationally-acclaimed poet at his house in Southwest Ohio.

Paul Laurence Dunbar House in Dayton

Only in Ohio: Paul Laurence Dunbar House

By Mollie Pavlofsky

Posted On: Jun 7, 2022

This year marks Notable Ohioan, Paul Laurence Dunbar's 150th birthday. Read on to learn more about his life and accomplishments. 

Paul Laurence Dunbar was an Ohio native and one of the first influential Black poets in American Literature. He graduated from Dayton's Central High School class of 1891, where he also became friends with Orville Wright - part of the famous Wright Brothers.

black and white photo of Paul Laurence Dunbar

Dunbar got his start when his former teachers invited him to speak at a writers' convention. This led to ample opportunities for Dunbar, including publishing his first poetry book and book speaking tours throughout the U.S. and Great Britain.

His dear friends, the Wright Brothers, also helped kick-start his career by printing some of Dunbar's earlier poetry, literature, and issues of a newspaper he produced for the Dayton African American community.  

outside the paul laurence dunbar house in dayton ohio

Known as the "Poet Laureate of African Americans," Dunbar published a dozen books of poetry, short stories, four novels, lyrics for a musical, and a play during his short career. Visitors can visualize and experience what life may have been like for Dunbar at the Paul Laurence Dunbar House.  

writing room of paul laurence dunbar inside the paul laurence dunbar house in dayton ohio
Writing Room

The Paul Laurence Dunbar House is Dunbar's former home in Dayton. This National Historic Landmark contains many personal memorabilia along with holding Dunbar's literary legacy; including dozens of his poetry, short story collections, and several novels. The house has been restored to its original beauty to display Dunbar's collections, furnishings, and even a bicycle that the Wright Brothers built for him. Inside the house guests can also view Dunbar's lavish collection of Native American art and a ceremonial sword that President Theodore Roosevelt presented to him.  

In 1936, the Ohio General Assembly dedicated Dunbar's house as a memorial to him, making it the first state memorial in Ohio to honor African-American History. The house is also part of the Dayton Historical Heritage Area and a stop on the Aviation Trail in Dayton (a self-guided tour that leads visitors to aviation-related sites in the area). 

Head to Dayton and explore, learn, and enjoy a visit to the historic landmark that is the Paul Laurence Dunbar House. 

For more historical attractions and arts & culture in the Birthplace of Aviation's Inviting Region, check out #OhioFindItHere at Ohio.org

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