Johnny Cash Boyhood Home wins Best of the South award

Friday, October 28, 2016
The Johnny Cash Boyhood Home won the 2016 Best of the South award for preserving Southern architecture. (DT Photo/Corey Clairday)

The Johnny Cash Boyhood Home, a Heritage Site of Arkansas State University, was recently selected as the winner of the 2016 Best of the South award. The honor is bestowed each year on behalf of the "Best of the South: Preserving Southern Architecture" committee for the Southeast Chapter, Society of Architectural Historians (SESAH).

The annual award honors a project that preserves or restores a historic building, or complex of buildings, in an outstanding manner and that demonstrates excellence in research, technique and documentation.

Dr. Ruth Hawkins, director of Arkansas State's Heritage Sites program, was notified by letter from Dr. Susan W. Knowles, chair of the Best of the South award committee, about the Cash home selection.

"The committee found your team's work remarkable in its commitment to the accurate restoration and interpretation of this modest home," said Dr. Knowles in the letter. "The finished house illustrates in tangible form a critical era of American history while at the same time conveying the rags-to-riches story of an American music icon."

She also noted that using the records of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1934 New Deal resettlement communities and obtaining historic photos and recollections from Cash family members, the research team also took a creative crowdsourcing approach to find period furnishings for the house.

"The restoration methodology, using virtual models as well as an intervention to move the building to remediate soil and shore up the foundation, exhibited a combination of best practices and elegant problem solving."

The colony has been resurrected through restoration of several historic buildings that opened to visitors in August 2014. The Dyess Colony Administration Building houses exhibits related to establishment of the colony, lifestyles of typical colonists and the impact that growing up in Dyess had on Johnny Cash and his music. The Johnny Cash Boyhood Home is furnished as it appeared when the Cash family lived there.

Arkansas State's Heritage Sites program, working with the Cash family, restored the boyhood home of Johnny Cash in Dyess, Ark. The project began in 2011 as A-State took possession of the shell of the original house.

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