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 for exploring Boise’s historic and contemporary Black and immigrant communities.
- Located at 617 Ash Street
- Acquired in May 2018
- 900 SQFT
- Ongoing neighborhood engagement
- Site Improvements, Public Art, Interpretive Signage
- Platform Architecture, Landscape Architect and Planner
- Public Opening: Estimated 2021
Learn more about the River Street Neighborhood with the River Street Neighborhood Digital History Project.
Who is Erma Hayman?
Erma Andre was born in 1907, the twelfth of thirteen children. She grew up in Nampa and played piano in the family band led by her father. Erma married Navy Madry and raised three children. Navy died of leukemia in 1935, leaving 28-year-old Erma a widow. In 1943, Erma married Lawrence Hayman and they purchased the stone house at 617 Ash Street.
Erma was an excellent seamstress and a voracious reader. Though she went to secretarial school, she was unable to find a full-time job. She industriously pursued many trades and vocations to support her family. Erma’s sewing skills helped them survive the Great Depression. At one point, she made herself a maid’s uniform and worked at parties on Warm Springs Avenue for $1 a day. During World War II, Erma was a real-life “Rosie the Riverter” at Boise’s Gowen Field, where she repaired aircraft. For more than 20 years, Erma dressed windows at the old Lerner Shop on Idaho Street. She also cooked and cared for a full house, even though the small home often had a lot more people in it than it did space. Erma also worked as a site manager for the Meals on Wheels program and chaired the River Street Neighborhood Council. To improve safety at the crosswalk at 13th and River Streets, Erma pushed for a traffic signal.
Erma Hayman died on November 2, 2009 at the age of 102.
What is the Hayman House?
The Hayman House is a one-story residence constructed in 1907, two years after the Lover’s Lane (now known as Pioneer Walkway) Addition was platted. Though its builder is unknown, its sandstone material is similar to the Idaho Capitol Building constructed in the same time frame.
The house was originally on two 26’ x 122’ lots formed by the odd-shaped triangular block of Lover’s Lane and Ash Street. The house is approximately 900 square feet. The modest one-bedroom residence has a hipped roof with a central hipped former 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 serves as the window sills for the one-over-one wood windows.
What is the significance of the historic River Street Neighborhood?
The historic River Street Neighborhood where the house sits was once the only place in Boise where people from marginalized groups could purchase homes.
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.
Phase One (2018-2019)
- 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
- Request and conduct a conditional use permit
- Stabilize house and site
- Conduct public art call to artist for exterior interpretive work
- Through ongoing neighborhood engagement and collaboration, develop a scope of program that is reflective of the site’s period of significance (1930s), the diverse community voice of the River Street Neighborhood, and encourage storytelling through public art, interpretive signage, and cultural programs and events
Phase Two (2019)
- Exterior landscape construction and public art begin
Phase Three (2020-2021)
- Preserve the house’s interior for a place-based, community-driven, fully-accessible cultural and historic resource
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