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Boise home of Erma Hayman will become cultural site

The Hayman House, which was acquired by the City of Boise in 2018, is becoming a cultural site.

Built in 1907, the 900 square foot home sits on the corner of Ash and River streets.

Through site improvements, public art and other educational information, the city’s goal is to inform the public about the history of the Hayman House, Erma Hayman, and the River Street Neighborhood.

“I believe that one of the best ways to bridge diverse cultures is through cultural sites like the Hayman House, where the space can be used for ongoing education, conversations and reconciliation,” Boise City Councilmember Lisa Sánchez said.

The Boise City Department of Arts & History’s Cultural Sites Program is in charge of the project.  

River Street Neighborhood 

Up until the 1960s, the River Street Neighborhood was the most ethnically and culturally diverse area in Boise.

In the early 1900s, immigrants from the Basque Country, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Japan, and Russia lived there. By 1940 and because of redlining, River Street was home to the majority of Boise’s African American residents.

“Most structures from the early days of the River Street neighborhood have been lost, and like so many areas populated by immigrants, Black Americans, and members of the working class, its stories have gone largely overlooked,” Outreach & Education Coordinator Jennifer Yribar said.

For more information on its history, click here.

Erma Hayman

Erma Hayman
Erma Hayman. Via Jeanne Madry–Young Collection, Boise City Archives 

Hayman was an African American community member “known to provide and care for neighbors who were in need or who didn’t have family nearby, keeping them company and bringing them food,” the city’s website notes.

As a member of the River Street Neighborhood Council, she fought to have a crosswalk and stoplight installed at the busy intersection of 13th and River streets.

“She was also a vital advocate for her neighborhood and its residents.”

Several people owned the house before Erma Hayman and her second husband purchased it in 1948. Erma lived there until her death more than sixty years later in 2009 at age 102.

Becoming a Cultural Site

Hayman House Boise
The Hayman House. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

The City of Boise is now making the house a cultural site that will be open for community events, tours and other educational opportunities.

“I am so pleased that this project is finally becoming a reality,” Hayman’s grandson Richard Madry said.

In June, the city awarded sculptor Vinnie Bagwell $100,000 to create public art at the house.

“I look forward to creating artwork that will make her family proud and remind viewers that artistry is a powerful and useful tool of social transformation; one capable of condensing our thoughts, distilling our minds, and renewing our hopes and aspirations,” Bagwell said.

Project underway

Internal and external preservation and renovation of the site is underway and is expected to be open to the public next year.

The department of Arts & History is looking for people to join the the Hayman House task force – particularly people who identify as Black, Indigenous, People of Color, Immigrant or New American, or who have lived experience of the River Street Neighborhood. For more information, here.

The Hayman House sits next to the new Ash+River townhomes, which opened last year. The complex added 24 new housing units, bringing deed-restricted affordable housing to the area.

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Anna Daly - BoiseDev Reporter
Anna Daly - BoiseDev Reporter
Anna Daly is a reporter for BoiseDev. She's an Emmy-winning journalist, and a professor at the College of Western Idaho. Contact her at [email protected].

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