"We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!
--Paul Laurence Dunbar
from the poem, We Wear the Mask
This Italianate turn-of-the-century structure was the final home of the
poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. It exhibits his literary treasures, many of
his personal items and his family's furnishings. During his short lifetime
Dunbar became known as the poet laureate of African Americans. Drawing
on his observations of society and the experience of his parents--both
former slaves--he gave voice to the social dilemma of disenfranchised
people of his day and became a proclaimer of black dignity.
Born in 1872, Dunbar was ill for most of his life. He died of tuberculosis
in 1906. His mother, Matilda, lived on in the house and kept vigil over
Paul's belongings until her death in 1934. On 23 July 1936, the Dunbar
House became the first state memorial to honor an African American.
In 2002-2003 the site began a capital improvement project. Today, the
Dunbar has been completely renovated and restored to furnishings and wallpapers
common, and some instances exactly, of the time period when Paul and Matilda
lived in the house. A new visitor center was also constructed on site,
containing interpretive panels chronicling Dunbar's life.
Paul Laurence Dunbar State Memorial is also a part of the National Park's
Service's Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park
and the Dayton Aviation Trail. The Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park
commemorates three exceptional men - Wilbur Wright, Orville Wright, and Paul Laurence Dunbar -
and their work in the Miami Valley. The Heritage Trail is made up of the National Park
and four partners, and it contains four separate sites. In addition to
Dunbar State Memorial, they are The Wright Cycle Company building and
Wright brothers' print shop building; Huffman Prairie Flying Field; and
the John W. Berry, Sr. Wright Brothers Aviation Center.
|Friday - Saturday
||10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
||noon - 4 p.m.
Tours available by appointment at other times throughout the year by calling 937/313-2010.
|Children 6 - 12
|Children 5 & under
||$3.00 per student
AAA and senior discounts given. Military discounts are available to all active military and their dependents.
The Dunbar House is located in Dayton (Montgomery County), at 219 Paul Laurence Dunbar Street.
It is two blocks north of 3rd Street and four blocks east of U.S. Route 35.
The entrance to the house and site is just off of Edison Street, around the corner from the house address.
Visitors should enter through the Visitors Center on Edison Street by ringing the center's buzzer system,
located at the door. It is two blocks north of 3rd Street and four blocks east of U.S. Route 35.
219 Paul Laurence Dunbar St.
Dayton, OH 45401
Dunbar House is managed on behalf of the Ohio Historical Society by Dayton History.
c/o Dayton History
1000 Carillon Boulevard
Dayton, OH 45409
800-860-0148 (toll free)