By Makenzi Dunstan, City of Boise Arts & History Department
While visiting Boise, Idaho for the 2023 AASLH Annual Conference, “I, Too, Am America”, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the city’s newest cultural site, the Erma Hayman House!
Located in Boise’s historic River Street Neighborhood, the Erma Hayman House was home to long-time resident and community advocate, Erma Andre Madry Hayman.
For much of the twentieth century, the River Street Neighborhood was the most ethnically and culturally diverse area in Boise. A working-class section of the city, the neighborhood housed immigrants from the Basque Country, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hawaii, Japan, Russia, and elsewhere. By 1940, housing discrimination had made River Street home to many of Boise’s Black residents, including Mrs. Hayman and her family.
Like so many areas populated by immigrants, Black Americans, and members of the working class, their stories have been largely omitted from the standard historical narrative, necessitating the preservation of the Erma Hayman House and the history of this local community.
Today, the Erma Hayman House is operated by the Boise City Department of Arts & History and works to directly support, celebrate, and amplify the stories of historically underrepresented communities, past and present, through inclusive, culturally mindful public programs.
Learn more about the Erma Hayman House, and other African American cultural spaces in Boise, during the tour “A More Complete Story: Exploring the City of Boise’s African American History” on Saturday, September 9, from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Editor’s Note: You can still sign up for this tour, even if you have already registered for the conference. Use these instructions to add this tour to your registration. The City of Boise Arts & History Department also operates the James Castle House, which is included in “Made in Idaho: James Castle and His Legacy,” a tour on Thursday, September 7 from 1 – 3:30 p.m. The pre-registration deadline for the conference is Friday, August 18.
Erma Hayman and Dick as a child, MS083, Richard “Dick” Madry Collection, Boise City Archives
Erma Hayman House, MS078, Jeanne Madry–Young Collection, Boise City Archives
Contemporary photograph: Courtesy the Boise City Department of Arts & History