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Dunbar Community Center receives state recognition

Bearcat Nation stand up.

A person holding a photo of a 1968 basketball team in a basketball gym.

Bearcat Nation, this one’s for you.

Photo by Paul Hooper

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This Saturday, Jan. 14 at 2 p.m., a little bit of history will repeat itself as Paul Laurence Dunbar High School will once again play basketball at the Dunbar Community Center for the first time in ~55 years.

The Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame (KHSBHF) has named the historic gymnasium a recipient of the “Glory Road” award, honoring spaces across the state that played an important role in the growth of the sport.

Let’s turn back time and take a peek into the now-hallowed halls of the Dunbar Community Center.

A black and white photo of a big brick building, Dunbar High School

The Dunbar Community Center building will celebrate 100 years next month. | Photo provided by Lexington Parks & Recreation

History books 📖

  • 1923 | Located at 545 N. Upper St., this building was completed on Feb. 15, and was home to the original Dunbar High School (now known as Paul Laurence Dunbar HS and located at 1600 Man O’ War Blvd.). It was the first Black high school in Kentucky to be admitted into the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
  • 1967 | The school closes due to desegregation.
  • 1973 | The building was acquired by Parks & Recreation which began renovations, keeping some portions intact like the original cornice above the entrance.
  • 1978 | The rest of the building was renovated and the community center opened.
  • Today | The space is now a haven for youth sports, home to Parks & Recreation offices, and a true example of connection to the community through its exterior art.

Significance of sports 🏀

The school was home to the team formerly known as the Dunbar Bearcats, who under Hall of Fame Coach S.T. Roach was a state powerhouse.

“The high school gymnasium was a gathering space for students and the community. It was the heart of Lexington. I always marveled at the enthusiasm of the ‘Bearcat Nation’ — it was a beautiful and wonderful thing to witness,” said Ken Trivette, Board Chairman of KHSBHF.

The details 🗓️

What: The Glory Road Project — Heritage Game and Glory Road Historical Gymnasium Award Presentation
When: Saturday, Jan. 14 at 2 p.m.
Where: Dunbar Community Center, 545 N. Upper St.
How: Get your tickets and learn more

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