Group Wanting to Purchase Dumas Buying For Time

Organizers say their campaign is an opportunity to heal old wounds and bring the people of Roanoke together.

The Dumas Hotel Legacy Inc., a community group attempting to put together the funding to purchase the Dumas Cultural Center from TAP, is negotiating both the price and the time frame to raise what could amount to around a million dollars.

Shmura Smith-Glenn with the Dumas Hotel Legacy said recently during an update on the project, that was also given at the Martin Luther King Jr. statue on Henry Street, that TAP – which spent millions turning the former hotel into a cultural center with an auditorium – wants to close on a sale by September.

Smith-Glenn said they are hoping TAP will give them more like 10-12 months.

The Legacy group has started a Go Fund Me page and has scheduled an outdoor event with saxophonist Adrian Crutchfield to raise money towards its goal. “We’re going to make a counter offer to them,” said Smith-Glenn, “we are trying to get the community to make donations.” She said that that they have already received “many thousand dollar checks to [The Dumas Hotel Legacy] so that we can buy it outright.”

The fabled Dumas was once a hotel on a thriving Henry Street, which was a busy entertainment district for African-Americans in segregated Roanoke.  Most of those buildings are gone now. The hotel welcomed entertainers like Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald when they came to town for performances – and were not welcome elsewhere.  The Dumas fell into disrepair after its heyday and was in danger of being torn down before Total Action for Progress – TAP –  purchased it in the late 80’s and proceeded to renovate it.

The vision now is to “[maintain] a cultural center, as TAP has established. [They] did a great job of establishing what the Dumas can be for the community. Our plan is to carry that through to completion, and bring the vision to fruition,” said Smith-Glenn.

The group expects a counter offer to come from the Dumas Hotel Legacy group within the next few weeks.  “We’ve got so many people excited as the word has spread. It’s a community effort – a black community effort in particular [but] many white people in the city have joined with us.”

The key is getting more time from TAP to raise that money. The property has been available for two years but TAP has “not been successful [in finding a buyer]. We are positive we can raise that money,” said Smith-Glenn. “We will own the building but we’re going to need more than two months. I don’t think that’s fair at all.”

For more information go to:

Gene Marrano

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