Listening to his music, it’s easy to picture a young Johnny Cash running around a rural Southern town causing trouble and learning the life lessons that inspired his simple but profound folk, rock, blues, and country tunes. That rural Southern town was the community of Dyess in northeastern Arkansas, and now fans of the late Man in Black will soon have a chance to do just the same.
…With help from the National Trust, Hawkins and Arkansas State University acquired the property in 2011 and quickly set to work on a restoration. Along with some of Cash’s remaining family, they organized music festivals in nearby Jonesboro where stars like Willie Nelson and Vince Gill played to raise money for the project.
Most of the restoration cost went into the ground as crews dug a 7-foot-deep pit on the house’s footprint to be repacked with more stable soil than the indigenous gumbo. They then poured a new concrete foundation and set the house up on concrete stilts. Inside the house, the original wood paneling was restored and new floors were removed to reveal the original linoleum. In all, the project has totaled roughly $350,000.
The house will open this April as a museum detailing the circumstances and experience of Cash’s childhood years.