Effort to restore, reopen Wichita’s historic Dunbar Theater
By Beccy Tanner | Published by The Wichita Eagle
May 30, 2013, at 10:19 p.m.
James Arbertha hopes the Dunbar Theater can reopen one day.
It will take raising $750,000, but Arbertha, executive director of Power Community Development Corp., thinks it can be done.
The Dunbar, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1941 at 1007 N. Cleveland. At one time it was considered the jewel in Wichita’s African-American community, particularly when it hosted acts such as musician Duke Ellington.
Built during the days of segregation, it was the only theater in Wichita that catered to African-Americans and one of the few theaters where minorities could sit anywhere. In other theaters, minorities were restricted to the balconies.
The Dunbar closed during the 1960s and quickly fell into disrepair. At one time it was placed on the city’s condemnation list because it no longer met city building codes.