2006 List

Dyess Colony Administration Building

Endangered List: Back To Main Page
City/County/Congressional District: Dyess , Mississippi County (District 1 )
Location Class: Residential
Year Built: 1930s1930s
Historic Designation: Historic District (1976)
Status: Restored

Before Restoration

After Restoration

The Dyess Colony Administration Building in Dyess is one of only a few remaining structures from this town’s significant history. This prominent two-story Greek Revival style is located in the heart of the Dyess Colony Center designated a National Register District in 1976. The New Deal-era Dyess Colony project was one of the earliest Federal Emergency Relief Administration and Works Progress Administration undertakings in Arkansas. The colony was designed as “an experiment in the permanent re-establishment of the independent farmer” and was soon replicated across the country as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal programs. The building is currently unoccupied and used for storage by the property owner.

The Dyess Colony Administration Building is currently in fair condition despite its age and years of use, although this appears to be due to the original solid construction and not to regular maintenance. Its long-term future is uncertain given the dwindling population and financial resources of the town over the past few decades. The Town of Dyess is very interested in obtaining the property and converting it for use as a local museum. The plight of Dyess and the Administration Building is found many times over in small towns with decreasing populations and limited resources to save some of our state’s most monumental architecture. The potential of this site and others like it for heritage tourism is enormous and programs, such as the Arkansas Delta Rural Heritage Development Initiative, are seeking solutions for saving such treasures as a component of a broader regional economic development plan.

In 2009, the Arkansas legislature directed Arkansas State University to determine the feasibility of developing the town as a heritage tourism site, focusing on its agricultural heritage and native son Johnny Cash. To carry out this mandate, a Dyess Colony Redevelopment Master Plan was completed in 2010, and the city donated the Administration Building, along with the adjacent Theatre center shell, to Arkansas State University. The restored Administration Building houses exhibits related to the Dyess Colony, the Cash family, and the impact of Dyess on Johnny Cash and his music.