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, 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.
It is a historic house museum owned by the state of Ohio and operated by Dayton History on behalf of the Ohio Historical Society. The house is also part of Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park. An on-site visitor center features panels telling the story of Dunbar's life.