The City of Boise acquired the Hayman House, located at 617 Ash Street, in May 2018. The River Street neighborhood was a working-class section of the city and home to many immigrants including Asian, Greeks, and Basques. By the 1930s, the neighborhood housed about 80 African American families. The Hayman family arrived there in the 1930s, and Erma Hayman lived in the house until her death in 2009. Boise’s Hayman House is a cultural and historic resource.
- Located at 617 Ash Street
- Acquired in May 2018
- 900 SQFT
- Ongoing neighborhood engagement
- Site Improvements, Public Art, Interpretive Signage
- Public Opening: Estimated 2021
Learn more about the River Street Neighborhood with the River Street Neighborhood Digital History Project.
Who is Erma Hayman?
Erma was born on October 18, 1907 in Nampa, Idaho. Her parents, Edward and Amanda Andre, moved from Missouri to Idaho (after some time in Montana) before 1900. The Andre’s had thirteen children, three born in Nampa. While in Nampa, the Andre’s were one of only a few African American families. Edward worked mostly custodian jobs and Amanda farmed. Erma describes her mother as a true farmer and that she loved farming. While growing up, Erma played piano in her family’s band.
She moved to the River Street Neighborhood in Boise in her early twenties and on November 3, 1928 she married Navy Madry. They started a family but unfortunately, Navy died in 1935, leaving Erma a widow. She eventually married Lawrence Hayman in 1943 and they bought the house at 617 Ash Street. Erma worked hard her entire life, facing job discrimination throughout Boise. She worked twenty years at Lerner’s, a women’s clothing shop on Idaho Street. In addition to her paid employment, Erma dedicated time to her neighborhood by serving in the community center and even caring for elderly neighbors.
At the age of 102, Erma died on November 2, 2009.
What is the Hayman House?
The Hayman House is a one-story residence constructed in 1907 where Erma and her family lived for more than 60 years. Approximately 900 square feet, the house was originally on two 26’ x 122’ lots formed by the odd-shaped triangular bloc of Lover’s Lane (now known as Pioneer Walkway) and Ash Street, and was built two years after the Lover’s Lane Addition was platted.
Though its builder is unknown, the house was constructed by skilled stone masons; its sandstone material is similar to that used to build the Idaho State Capitol Building and other many Boise buildings constructed around the same time frame. The modest one-bedroom residence has a hipped roof with a central hipped dormer that formerly had two attic windows. The symmetrical façade has a recessed, enclosed porch and squared sandstone corners around the porch columns, windows, and doors. A protruding sandstone belt course around the house forms window sills for the one-over-one wood windows and the steps approaching the house are also chiseled from sandstone.
Architecturally, the one-bedroom house has seen minimal alterations over its 100+ year life span.
What is the significance of the historic River Street Neighborhood?
The River Street Neighborhood is one of the oldest areas of the city. It was farmed early in the 1860s by people like John McClellan and then it was developed from agricultural land into modest home sites. After the railroad came into town along modern Front and Myrtle Streets (circa 1890s), the area was quickly designated as the “other side of the tracks.” Because of this designation, it was maintained as a working class neighborhood and was the only area in town where African Americans were able to live and buy homes.
As the city entered the 1960s and 1970s, the land in the neighborhood became more valuable and was targeted for urban renewal. Houses were razed frequently. The little neighborhood street, River Street, was targeted for rerouting in the early 1970s. Because of this change the character of the neighborhood drastically changed from a quiet neighborhood near the river to a thoroughfare. In recent years demolition and redevelopment continues and the history of the neighborhood’s built environment disappears.
Why did the City acquire the Hayman House?
Tied into the goals of the City of Boise’s Cultural Master Plan, the preservation and interpretation of the 617 Ash Street property are critical components for representing those whose stories are often omitted from standard historical research. The home’s architecture also provides insight into stylistic and construction trends of the era and how those intersect with different demographic groups.
GOALS OF THE PROJECT
- Enhance and protect the Hayman House site as an identifiable cultural destination
- Inform the public about the history of the Hayman House, Erma Hayman, and the River Street Neighborhood with site improvements, public art, and interpretative signage
- Consider the larger picture of this cultural gem in downtown Boise and its relation to the greenbelt, library, historical museums, and other cultural landmarks
- Keep the site friendly, safe, accessible, interesting
- Reflect the diverse community voice of the River Street Neighborhood
Phase One (2018-2020)
- Inform the public about the history of the Hayman House, Erma Hayman, and the River Street Neighborhood with site improvements, public art, and interpretive signage
- Stabilize house and site
- Establish public art projects on site for exterior interpretation
- Through ongoing neighborhood engagement and collaboration, identify short and long-term possibilities for site activation, public art projects, and historic interpretation that reflects the historic and contemporary experience of Boise’s diverse population including Black-Americans and immigrants.
Phase Two (2020-2021)
- Exterior landscape construction and public art begin
- Preserve the house’s interior for a place-based, community-driven, fully-accessible cultural and historic resource
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