By Chelsea Chambers
It is through the understanding of our past that we can begin to actualize our present and look towards our future.
Idaho has had millions of residents since it became a state in 1890, including one prominent resident, Erma Andre Madry Hayman, who was born in Nampa, Idaho more than 100 years ago, in 1907.
The Andre family was one of very few African-American families living in Nampa during the early 1900s. They made their living as dairy farmers and the family of 15 worked tirelessly to maintain their livelihood.
Erma left Idaho for Seattle with her first husband, but after his passing in 1935, she returned to Idaho and remarried. The new couple was subject to various racial discrimination experiences, including one that prevented them from buying a home in their desired area. However, they found a home on Ash Street, near River Street, and thus the Hayman House was born.
Erma spent the rest of her life making strides for the growing Boise community. She served on the River Street Neighborhood Council, became Chairwoman, and was a huge player in the installation of a crosswalk and stoplight at 13th and River Street. She passed away in 2009 at the age of 102, leaving her legacy within the walls of the Hayman House.
Over this past summer, the Boise City Council awarded sculptor Vinnie Bagwell $100,000 to create various public art displays within the Hayman House, to help honor, memorize, and celebrate Erma’s prominent life and the architecture of the last-remaining single-family home on its block.
“The purpose of the public art is to celebrate the life of Erma Hayman, who moved into the one-story residence located at 617 Ash Street with her family in 1948,” shared Jennifer Yribar, Outreach and Education Coordinator for the City of Boise.
Bagwell, the prominent sculptor chosen for this project, is excited to make her contributions to the Hayman House. “I am very grateful to the City of Boise for its continued advocacy of the telling of Erma Hayman’s story to balance the narrative in your city through art in a public place. 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 told Yribar in an interview.
The Hayman House is not currently open to the public but the Hayman House Task Force Committee estimates that it will be open in the summer of 2021, after art installations and restorations are complete.
For more information about Erma, the Hayman House, and the upcoming project, visit boiseartsandhistory.org