In the tiny town of Dyess out in rural Arkansas, Johnny Cash spent his formative years from 3-years-old through high school. Now, the small home he lived in has been added to the National Register of Historic Places as “Farm No. 266, Johnny Cash Boyhood Home.”
As the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette writes, the 5-room house was built in 1935 in the Dyess Resettlement Colony by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration. The original application for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program focused on the architecture of the house along with Cash’s history, but the National Register of Historic Places returned their application, asking them to show how the home impacted Cash’s creativity.
The director of Arkansas State University’s Heritage Sites, Ruth Hawkins, said, “People who visit this site typically leave with the comment, ‘Now we understand where his music came from.’ Clearly, who Johnny Cash became as a person and as a musician was shaped by his time in Dyess.”
ASU bought the property and renovated it for $575,000 so it could become a historical site. Back in 1935, the home was only valued at $1,000 when the Cash family of seven was notified that they were selected to become part of the new farming community.
“Unlike the smaller houses, the five-room house included an indoor toilet and bath facilities, though it still utilized a well for water and the plumbing fixtures were never operational when the Cash family lived in the house,” the nomination written by ASU reads.
Cash was driven to get out of the small farming town. “When we grew up, it was second nature that we wouldn’t live in Dyess when we were grown,” he once said. “It was the aim of every person to get a better job. But if I hadn’t grown up there, I wouldn’t be what I am now. It was the foundation for what I became.”