Team dedication rebuilds Price Hill's Arts Center at Dunham

Many hands make light work.

The Arts Center at Dunham knows the meaning of that old saying well. Last Saturday, 60 volunteers from Procter & Gamble, GE Aviation, and Sunset Players descended upon the structure with paint and polish.  Now, the Art Deco building is ready for its re-opening as a community art center after it was closed for repairs several years ago.

The building has a deep and personal history within the Price Hill community. 

Once, it was part of the large Dunham Tuberculosis Hospital, the first municipally-owned tuberculosis sanatorium in the country. Opened in 1897, it was renamed after its long-time medical director, Dr. Henry Kennon Dunham, who served the hospital, without pay, from 1909-1940.

Samuel Hannaford and Sons, the preeminent architectural firm in Cincinnati during the 1920s known for the design of Music Hall and City Hall, designed the Art Deco building for occupational and entertainment needs, including a movie theatre for residents confined to the grounds.  

After the hospital closed in the early 1970s, Cincinnati reopened the complex as a recreational center. Most of the hospital buildings were torn down, but this building was kept as a center for arts programming. 

Beth Andriacco is community engagement coordinator for Price Hill Will, one of the groups behind the effort to reclaim the building for community arts.  

“Most of us who grew up in the area took classes there, like pottery and cooking,” she recalls.

The Sunset Players, a community theater group, made the Dunham Art Center its home, so when a leaky roof closed the building, the Players kept performing in other venues while raising money to fix its structural problems and work towards a long-term lease of the building.  

Partnering with the City of Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Recreation Center, the West Price Hill Civic Club, Price Hill Will and the Dunham Advisory Board, the Sunset Players were joined by volunteers from local industry for this last push to re-open the building.  When the center opens, it will offer art programming and studio space, as well as theater productions.    

“P&G and GE Aviation wanted to do a large volunteer project…and contacted Price Hill Will,” says Andriacco.  This project was the perfect fit.  

Do Good:

• Attend: the first Sunset Players production in the new center, a Playhouse in the Park “Off the Hill” production for families called Accidental Friends, Sept. 29 at 7pm.

• Visit: the Sunset Players online, as the company celebrates its 30 years of community performances and offers a link to join the group or help with the art center.

• Like: the Arts Center at Dunham on Facebook to stay current on the landmark's latest news.

By Becky Johnson