In the early 20th century Bills grandmother Zimmerman, Martha Higdon Zimmerman, started raising chicks. Sometime shortly after she started the hatchery, producing thousands of baby chicks each year. This hatchery later became known as "Zimmermans Hatchery" 'home of the sturdy chicks'"
The house was built in 1922 with the hatchery in mind. The basement was built so that the incubators could be placed in it for easy monitoring. The ventilator shafts in the foundation walls allowed air to reach the basement while still keeping it warm. A few years ago the shafts were plugged with concrete to keep mice out of the house.
During the time of the hatchery there were many chicken houses built. These chicken houses incorporated all of the newest and most innovative designs of the time. All of these utilized ideas such as passive ventilation systems, automatic watering, and trolley systems to carry out and dump the manure waste. Some of these ideas were complete failures.
The hatchery continued for many years and produced tens of thousands of White Leghorn laying hens for the growers in Clark County. The end of the hatchery came during the "Columbus Day windstorm". A batch of chicks were scheduled to hatch out that night and the next day, but the power went out and there was a decision to be made. Without any power the incubators couldn't work and the chicks would freeze, this meant keeping all doors and ventilator shafts closed. But without the doors or ventilator shafts open the chicks would suffocate. Bills father made the decision to open the doors and ventilator shafts so the chicks had air, but this left them very vulnerable. Many piled up in the corners of the incubators and in the room. When too many chicks pile up on top of each other they suffocate the ones on the bottom of the pile, but without piling up they would've died from the cold. Those that survived the night were still very difficult to keep alive without any power to supply heat lamps or heaters with. Chicks need extra heat to survive because they don't have any feathers. This caused the Zimmermans Hatchery to lose approximately 1500-2500 chicks. This was the final straw for the Zimmermans Hatchery and they called it quits in 1962.
Martha Higdon Zimmerman feeding her chicks.
Original Zimmerman's Hatchery building running along 119th St.