In 1888, William Hatterman moved to the Birchwood Beach neighborhood from the near north side of Chicago and built his house just south and east of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway tracks (now the CTA Red Line), between Rogers Avenue and Howard Avenue. All of the surrounding area was farmland.
The rambling Hatterman house was at the south end of the tract. Beside it was a big horse barn and a windmill. A friend of Hatterman from Philadelphia sent a dynamo that was attached to one of the two windmills on his property. This provided electricity to the Birchwood District residents. This was five years before Commonwealth Edison extended its wires into Rogers Park.
The Hattermans called their land "Willow Lea," and when they moved there, they added to the natural foliage with a wide variety of bushes and vines. They brought in golden pheasants, foxes, owls, and eagles and imported flowers and bulbs from Holland.
William Hatterman filled his yard with fruit trees. Children from Rogers Park would come to play and eat the fruit. During the winter, he had toboggans and other toys for the children and they could skate on his pond.
As President of the Rogers Park Board, Hatterman started the Farwell Bathing Beach and installed the first Lifesaving Station. He also began the school gardens at Eugene Field Elementary School on Lunt Avenue and on Ashland Avenue.