Arkansas State University is working to preserve the heritage of the Dyess Colony by restoring significant buildings that remain from its days as an agricultural resettlement community. The first phase of this plan involved restoring the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home, as well as restoring the Administration Building in the Colony Center and stabilizing what remains of the former Theatre. The Colony Center property has been donated to the project by Gene Williams and the City of Dyess, while the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home was acquired through proceeds from the first annual Johnny Cash Music Festival in 2011.
Johnny Cash Boyhood Home
The Cash home, built in 1935, has been restored to its appearance when the Cash family lived there, from 1935 to 1954. It is furnished based on recollections from family members and conveys the lifestyle of the Cash family as typical colonists. Restoration funds have come from proceeds generated by the annual Johnny Cash Music Festival, along with private donations. To view the restoration progress on the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home, click here.
The Dyess Colony Administration Building, completed in 1936, has been restored to house the Dyess Colony Museum, along with municipal offices for the City of Dyess. Funding for the restoration was provided primarily through grants from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council, with support from a Challenge Grant through the National Endowment for the Humanities. Exhibits focus on the history of the Colony, lifestyles of colonists, the Cash family as typical colonists, and the impact of growing up in Dyess on Johnny Cash and his music. To view the restoration progress on the Colony Circle, click here.
Built in 1947 after the original community building burned, the Theatre is being rebuilt (only the front façade currently remains) to serve as a Visitor/Orientation Center, including Dyess and Johnny Cash films and other interpretive materials and exhibits. Restoration funds are primarily through a Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. To view the restoration progress on the Colony Circle, click here.
As funds become available, other phases of the restoration include:
• Recreating the outbuildings at the Cash home (barn, smokehouse, chicken coop, and outhouse)
• Rebuilding a former colony house adjacent to the Cash house to provide visitor services
• Adding historic signage at locations throughout the community
• Developing a walking trail between the Colony Circle and the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home