Della Irving Hayden was the child of a freed slave, who was highly gifted and had a passion for learning. After graduating from Hampton University in 1877, she returned to Franklin to teach in the public schools and in 1904 founded a small private boarding school for African American girls. As the school grew, male students were eventually admitted during the day. Della served as principal of the school (Franklin Normal School) until her death in 1924.
To honor her legacy and dedication to what is now the Hayden Village Center, residents and community members can enjoy the beauty of the Della Hayden Memorial Garden and the benefits of the fresh bounties from the community raised garden beds.