It was once an historic hotel in then-segregated Roanoke, the only place in town that welcomed out of town African Americans like Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and others. Then the Hotel Dumas was transformed in the Dumas Center for Artistic and Cultural Development, with around five million dollars of investments by Roanoke City, various grants, donations and its new owner – TAP. Now the Dumas is for sale.
Total Action for Progress CEO Annette Lewis says the asking price is 1.075 million dollars. “It does not meet TAP’s mission. We have a beautiful theater in the building – but we don’t do anything with the arts. We would love for someone to own the Dumas that fits their mission. A beautiful auditorium with perfect sound; the audio-visual is just awesome, 187 seats.”
Roanoke Children’s Theatre had called the Dumas home for several years before deciding it needed a bigger space and moved to Jefferson Center. “The building is [still] fully occupied but does not meet our mission,” Lewis reiterated.
Lewis says selling the Dumas Center at the right price will allow TAP to retire any remaining debt on the project and allow the social services organization to focus “on investing in people and families, [helping them] achieve individual and economic independence. We’d like to use our resources for that.”
Lewis acknowledges what purchasing and rehabbing the Dumas property has meant to the rebirth of Henry Street, which now includes the Claude Moore Educational Complex across the street, home to the Virginia Western Culinary Arts program.
VWCC broke ground last week on an 8,000 square foot, five million dollar expansion that will include three state-of-the-art teaching kitchens. “TAP was the first [entity] to preserve any property on Henry Street. We’re glad to have played that role. I think it has served the community very well.”
At least one community group has expressed an interest in purchasing the Dumas and has held a meeting to sound people out about that prospect.
“We are very interested in anyone who is interested in purchasing the Dumas,” says Lewis, “they can certainly contact our realtor. We are thankful that TAP was able to preserve this very beautiful, historic building with such history. I think it would be a great piece of property for someone to own.”
By Gene Marrano