The Hays Street Historic District comprises almost twenty-two blocks in the northern half of the Original Boise Townsite. The district was originally a residential neighborhood developed most intensely at the turn of the 20th century. Half of the present buildings in the district were constructed prior to 1912.
Although originally primarily a residential neighborhood, the district currently contains a mix of land uses, and the base zoning districts allow for multi-family and office uses. Large and modest single-family homes, as well as apartments (earlier known as boarding homes), churches, and schools were historically built in the district. Over the years, many of these homes were converted to new uses as offices or demolished to make room for surface parking lots. This mix of land uses and the predominately residential scale of the district provide a transition from the more intensely commercial downtown and State Capitol Campus to the more single-family North End Historic District.
The district contains a wide range of architectural styles with a number of buildings designed by the architect J. E. Tourtellotte and the successor firm. The Queen Anne architectural style is the most common with 20 percent of the buildings. Also represented are Colonial Revival, Craftsman, and Minimal Traditional, among others.