The River Street Neighborhood, one of the oldest in Boise and once home to its largest African-American community, has been the focus of a lot more attention at Boise City Hall of late. The neighborhood, which saw most of its historic homes and buildings disappear over the past few decades, is set to see no fewer than three new housing projects, resulting in dozens of new townhouses, condos and apartments near River Street.
- Laurie Pearman
- Erma Andre Madry Hayman (circa 1920) played piano in her all-family orchestra. The 1907 sandstone house where she lived, still stands at 617 Ash St.
One of the homes that survived the neighborhood's decline in the late 20th century is a nondescript 900-square-foot stone structure at the corner of Ash and River streets, better known today as the Hayman House. It was there that Erma Hayman lived until her death in 2009; she was 102 years old. In May 2015, Boise Weekly visited a unique archaeological dig at the site, which unearthed more than 10,000 artifacts, confirming that the property had immeasurable historic value. A total of 544 volunteer amateur archaeologists contributed 1,174 hours to the project, and historians conducted a series of oral history interviews with people who recalled living in or near the neighborhood.
- Harrison Berry
- Student Rie Misaizu searches for artifacts from the Hayman House in May 2015.
Now, the Boise City Department of Arts and History is ready to bring new life to the Hayman House through an ambitious $500,000-plus revitalization that will turn the site into a public gathering space that could host workshops, lectures or artist-in-residence programs.
The plan, which still needs the green light from Boise City Council, would see the Capital City Development Corporation shoulder half of the development cost (approximately $277,000). The other half would come from the city, drawing monies from the Boise Capital Improvement Fund ($132,000) and the Percent for Art Fund ($145,000).
If all goes as proposed, the improvements to the exterior of the Hayman House could take place in Fiscal Year 2019 (which begins October 2018), with landscaping—including the creation of a path called "Erma's Walk"—coming in FY2020 and improvements to the interior of the home coming in FY2021. The project design team would also like to install interpretive signage outside the home and an art wall or mosaic, celebrating the life of Erma Hayman.