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Three more Arkansas properties have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Posted on February 8, 2018

Mark Christ, a spokesman for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, said the state agency will reapply in April.

"It's really just a speed bump in the process," Christ said. "A little bit of bureaucratic cleanup. This does happen periodically."

The National Park Service didn't feel Cash's boyhood home qualified as architecturally significant. They encouraged Arkansas to reapply under Criterion B instead, which means the house was associated with the life of a significant person in the past.

"Properties eligible under Criterion B are usually those associated with a person's productive life, reflecting the time period when he or she achieved significance," according to a National Register bulletin that explains how to apply for listing.

Cash lived in the house at Dyess from the age of 3 through high school.

[ARKANSAS 360°: Explore inside Johnny Cash's boyhood home in Dyess through interactive photos]

Although Cash didn't become a famous singer while living at Dyess, the National Park Service's request for the nomination to be resubmitted under Criterion B was a good sign that it would be approved if resubmitted, Christ said.

Ruth Hawkins, director of Arkansas State University's Heritage Sites, said she was "absolutely thrilled" that the nomination was kicked back.

"Normally, it's very difficult to get something on the National Register that focuses on a person, so we were really encouraged to focus more on the Dyess colony and the design of Dyess as an agricultural resettlement colony and play down the connection to Johnny Cash himself," she said.

But now, the nomination can be rewritten focusing on the country music star who grew up in the house.

"I loved that it was kicked back because they thought it was more significant than was reflected in the application," she said.

"He's an American icon. He's a significant national treasure. Who he became as a performing artist was so tied to his childhood and the way he grew up."

She cited two Cash songs as likely having connections to his years at Dyess: Five Feet High and Rising about the 1937 flood, and Pickin' Time.

According to The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture, Cash's love of music apparently began at Dyess.

"His mother introduced him to the guitar, and the local Church of God introduced him to music," according to the encyclopedia entry.

"He acquired a fascination for the guitar and a love for singing. Cash first sang on the radio at station KLCN in Blytheville while attending Dyess High School."

But Cash didn't acquire his first guitar until he was in the U.S. Air Force and stationed in Germany, according to the article. That first guitar cost him $5.

The Cash home is also being nominated under Criterion A, which refers to places that "are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history."

Hawkins has said Cash's 1934 boyhood home wouldn't have qualified for nomination until after restoration was finished in 2014.

The one-story, five-room farmhouse was built by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration using standard plans designed by Arkansas architect Howard Eichenbaum, according to the nomination form.

The three properties that did make the list this week included two buildings in Little Rock and the site of a prehistoric village in Mississippi County.

Sherman mound and village in Mississippi County was apparently a thriving city 800 years ago, according to National Register nomination form.

The village included a primary mound, two secondary mounds, one or two plazas, a palisade wall with bastions, and residential areas.

It's one of the largest and best preserved earthworks of the period in the Central Mississippi Valley, according to the nomination.

The Little Rock buildings that made the list are the Arkansas Teachers Association headquarters building and Professional Services building, which was constructed for a medical corporation.

They are midcentury modern-style buildings completed in 1965 and designed by the architectural firm of George Henry Tschiemer & Associates of Pine Bluff, according to the nomination form.

Metro on 02/08/2018

Print Headline: 3 sites in state make National Register; Cash home in Dyess didn’t make cut, but agency encouraged to reapply