The finale of the first Johnny Cash Music Festival, August 4, 2011
(photo courtesy of Michael Johnshon & John B. Zibluk)
For more information on the annual Johnny Cash Music Festival, please click here
(Willie Nelson & Rosanne Cash, Oct 5, 2012, photo courtesy of Michael Johnshon )
Our friends at the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home are looking for items for the restoration project. Check out the list of what's needed, and if you have any of the items, or know where the items can be found, please contact Dr. Ruth Hawkins.
Furnishings for the restored Johnny Cash Boyhood Home are now being gathered, based on descriptions by Cash family members, along with items typical of Dyess Colony homes during the 1930s and 1940s. Please click on this Household Registry regularly to see what has been received and what is still needed. Those who donate items to the house will be recognized on a permanent plaque.
The Dyess Colony was established in 1934 as one of the nation's first agricultural resettlement community under the Works Progress Administration and the Federal Emergency Relief Administration. The colony was named after Mississippi County native and Arkansas's first WPA administrator, Williams Reynolds Dyess. The federal government acquired 16,000 acres of land in Mississippi County and laid out the colony in a wagon-wheel design, with a Town Center at the hub and farmsteads for 500 colonists stretching out from the middle. The colony's centerpiece was a large Greek-Revival Administration Building dedicated by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in 1936. Colonists recruited to take part in this cooperative experiment included the Ray and Carrie Cash family. They moved from Kingsland, Arkansas, in 1936 with their children, including 3-year-old J.R. Cash (later known as Johnny Cash). The country music legend grew up in Dyess, graduating from Dyess High School in 1950. His experiences there influenced much of his music and career.
In 2007, the City of Dyess acquired the Dyess Colony Administration Building and adjacent Theater/Community Center shell. The City of Dyess planned to restore the Administration Building and use one side as municipal offices and the other side as a museum/memorial to favorite son, Johnny Cash. After extensive fundraising efforts, the City of Dyess (population 515) was able to come up with enough money to replace the roof of the Administration Building, thereby assisting somewhat in stabilizing the structure.
In an effort to save these important structures and tell the story of the Dyess Colony and the Johnny Cash family, a bill was passed in the 2009 legislative session directing ASU to determine the feasibility of making this site part of the Arkansas Heritage Sites program. As part of this mandate, a community master plan has been completed. ASU recently received a grant to restore the exterior of the Administration Building and to stabilize the Theater/Community Center shell.
Working with the community, Arkansas Heritage Sites' goal is to make "Historic Dyess Colony: Boyhood Home of Johnny Cash" an international tourism destination. Already, even though there is nothing open to the public and no interpretation, tourists are coming to this town in great numbers. Bus tours in the past year have included groups from places such as Ireland and Finland.
With enough support and resources,"Historic Dyess Colony: Boyhood Home of Johnny Cash" will become a heritage site that represents the Dyess Colony Town Center and the Johnny Cash boyhood home during the years 1935-1950, the period when Cash resided there.
Arkansas Heritage Sites
Please e-mail problems, comments and
regarding this site to Rachel Miller
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