Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum and Gardens

Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum and Gardens Filled with original furnishings, artwork, diaries, clothing and household items, the Cottage is a rich time capsule of life during the Victorian Era. The Cottage is also one of only a handful of Swiss-style homes remaining in the United States.
Mission Statement: Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum and Gardens preserves, protects and interprets Rockford's authentic history, heritage and culture to promote community and economic vitality. Vision Statement TSCMG is widely recognized as the site where the threads of Rockford's early history are woven together to provide a context for growth and development.

"I only wanted to build a home that would give Rockford a name" Robert H. Tinker Robert Tinker's inspiration for the Cottage came during his tour of Europe in 1862, where he fell in love with the architecture of Switzerland. In 1865, Robert began building his Swiss Cottage on the limestone bluff overlooking Kent Creek. Robert surrounded his Swiss Cottage with over 27 acres of trees, vines, winding pathways, flowerbeds, and gardens. A three-story Swiss inspired barn was added to the property which housed cows, chickens, and horses. On the side of the Cottage, Robert constructed a suspension bridge crossing the Kent Creek. This bridge linked the Cottage with his wife's, Mary Dorr Manny Tinker, limestone mansion and grounds. In 1906, the railroad bought the remainder of Mary's estate. At the end of Robert's suspension bridge, he planted elaborate gardens deemed the Railroad Gardens where passengers could stroll as they waited for the train.


June 17, 1867: Lost my best hat over the dam #uhoh #goodbyehat #weveallbeenthere #dailytinker

Welcome to Tinker Cottage!

Today's #TinkerTopic gives you an idea of what to expect when you visit our campus. As a reminder, we are now open for tours Tuesday through Friday at 1pm and 3pm. We look forward to seeing you soon!


June 16, 1867: Finished strawberries – with a short cake for tea #strawberryshortcake #yummy #teatime #dailytinker


June 15, 1914: Left key in auto which was set off by my kids just escaping fatal accident #uhoh #TeddyTinker #closecalls #earlyautomobiles #dailytinker


June 14, 1886: Left home at 2:30 pm with Wife + Hannah for Colorado #TravelingTinkers #Coloradoorbust #dailytinker


June 13, 1867: Sewing Society met at Mrs. M’s – large attendance + lovely evening #MaryDorrManny #RockfordSewingSociety #dailytinker


June 12, 1881: Sun out bright after the rain + eclipse of last night. Dr. McAffee vaccinated us all #medicaladvances #possiblyanthraxvaccine #dailytinker


For today’s #TinkerTopic we’re technically getting into PRE-Rockford history, learning about Native American mounds.


June 11, 1868: Sewing Society at my house to sew for Miss Bingham returning to Sandwich Islands #sewingsocietyatabachelorsplace #Cottagecompany #SandwichIslandsakaHawaii #dailytinker


June 10, 1881: Returned home in eve troubled with boils #ouch #feelbettersoonBob #dailytinker

Rockford's Founding Site

Since it's too rainy to do much in the gardens we thought we'd bring our gardens to you! 🌧 Today's #TinkerTopic takes a look at Rockford's founding site.


June 9, 1885: Dr. McDonald giving Wife electricity #electrotherapy #MaryDorrMannyTinker #ouch #feelbettersoonMary #dailytinker


June 8, 1913: Took lone tour in machine + on foot in Black Hawk Park #drivingaroundtown #lazydays #dailytinker


June 7, 1893: Wrote to Will on early train + had telephone talk later #WillDorr #familyconnections #newinventions #dailytinker


June 6, 1866: Spread my 16 reapers + 2 mowers out in an open lot to repair + varnish #BusinessBob #alwaystinkering #MannyReaperWorks #dailytinker


June 5, 1881: Scene painters for Opera house called #BusinessBob #alwaystinkering #RockfordOperaHouse #Rockfordhistory #dailytinker

Tinker Patriarchs

Happy Thursday! Today's #TinkerTopic takes a look at our Tinker family patriarchs. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! 😎


June 4, 1900: Dr. Fitch examined me all over. Didn’t say much. Began use of electric battery for arm #electrotherapy #ouch #Bobs63yo #dailytinker

#Reopening We have some exciting news - Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum will reopen for tours beginning tomorrow, June 4th! ...

#Reopening We have some exciting news - Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum will reopen for tours beginning tomorrow, June 4th! As we enter into this next phase of reopening, we do have some new guidelines to share with our community. Please take a look below (click on the picture to see all the details) 👇 As we are limiting the number of guests on tours, we strongly encourage you to reserve your spot on tour by calling our office at 815-964-2424 or emailing our director at [email protected] ☎️


June 3, 1852: Such side walks as Dunkirk City had, are not to be sneezed at, but coughed + spit at #ouch #TeenageTinker #lifeinNewYork #dailytinker


June 2, 1852: Got home just in time to see an Irish dance, carried on by the man + maid servant and all their relations #TeenageTinker #traditionaldances #dailytinker


June 1, 1852: The first day of summer. Was a beautiful day, warm in the forenoon, and a good refreshing shower in the afternoon #summervibes #sunshineandshowers # #dailytinker


May 31, 1912: Wife hunting moths and dispensing oil paintings #JessieDorrHurdTinker #huntingmoths #springcleaning #dailytinker


May 30, 1883: Decoration Day. Trying to find the strays that robbed me #Victoriancelebrations #Bobgetsrobbedalittletoooften #dailytinker


May 29, 1895: Sent wild flower to Marcia #familybonds #uncleandniece #MarciaDorr #dailytinker

Mission Terror; Season 3; Episode 8; Tinker Swiss Cottage

Today's #FreakyFriday post features our friends at Greater Rockford Apparition & Ghost Group (G.R.A.G.G) during their episode of Mission Terror featuring the Cottage. Enjoy! 👻

The planets align and the GRAGG team finally does an exclusive investigation of the legendary Tinker Swiss Cottage. Tinker is known for being one of the most...

Nelson Knitting Factory

It's time for another #TinkerTopic! Today we'll take a look at the building next door - the Nelson Knitting Factory. 😍 Let us know in the comments if you have one of our city's infamous Sock Monkeys!


May 28, 1919: The great annoyance of children picking flowers + tearing plants up cause “No Trespassing” signs to be hung – Ted goes bare footed #TeddyTinker #scandaloustimes #kidsthesedays #TInkergardens #Bobsnotmessingaround #ormaybeitsJessie #dailytinker


May 27, 1888: Reached Chicago 8 am found Wife + Marcia at Palmer Ho. #TravelingTInker #familyreunion #MaryandMarcia #dailytinker

Camp Grant

Happy #TinkerTopics Tuesday! Today we are taking you on a quick field trip to Camp Grant 🤩


May 26, 1870: Clear day had fine trip about the crater which was more active than it had been in 2 years #becarefulBob #dontfallin #Hawaiianhoneymoon #TravelingTinker #dailytinker


May 24, 1922: Italian Ambassador Ricci, City’s guest. Banquet, Thunderstorms + parades #visitingdignitary #excitingtimes #dailytinker


May 23, 1889: Finished sidewalk in front of office #busyBob #laterhegetsarrestedforanillegalsidewalk #alwaystinkering #dailytinker


May 22, 1885: I think summer has come #thankgoodness #goodbyewinter #dailytinker

singing female

Today's #FreakyFriday post comes from our friend Dale Kaczmarek and his Ghost Research Society 👻 In this clip you can hear a female singing/humming a lullaby while the group is in another room. If you hear it, let us know in the comments below! 👇

A singing female voice was captured on the full spectrum which was in the Red Room of Tinker Swiss Cottage in Rockford, Illinois. However the sound did not a...


411 Kent St
Rockford, IL

Rockford Transit System stops at Winnebago Street entrance.

General information

Open for guided tours. Tuesday - Sunday. 1pm & 3pm. Closed on Mondays Tours are $ 8 for Adults $ 7 for Seniors $ 5 for Children Children 5 & Under FREE. Accessibility: Due to the nature of the Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum, accessibility is limited. There are no ramps leading into the museum nor elevators inside the museum.

Opening Hours

Tuesday 13:00 - 16:30
Wednesday 13:00 - 16:30
Thursday 13:00 - 16:30
Friday 13:00 - 16:30


(815) 964-2424


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Our Story

When Robert’s second wife Jessie Dorr Hurd Tinker passed away in 1942, she deeded the Cottage and its contents to three trustees in hopes becoming a museum, while simultaneously leaving the gardens and land surrounding it to the Rockford Park District. The Tinkers hoped to always have a park-like setting surrounding their home for visitors to enjoy. The museum has been open since 1943 and continues to work with the Rockford Park District in welcoming visitors to the Tinker Swiss Cottage and the founding location of our great city.

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Took my three best friends from high school in Chicago to visit Tinker last week. We are in our 70's and have toured MANY house museums. The girls all thought Tinker was the best tour they had enjoyed. Docent Ann was incredible. She was so knowledgeable, helpful and friendly. And Rich was a great help also. Thank your for providing such a pleasant afternoon.
Please help me congratulate Samantha Hochmann’s for her promotion to Executive Director of Tinker Swiss Cottage and Gardens! Press Room FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 4th 2019 – Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum and Gardens promoted Samantha Hochmann to Executive Director. Samantha replaces Steve Litteral who relocated to Tennessee last August. She is responsible for all operations, management and activities of Tinker Swiss Cottage as prescribed by the Board of Trustees. Since August of 2018 Samantha has been the interim Executive Director and has proven her ability to fulfill the requirements of the position. Prior to this, Samantha held the position of Director of Education at Tinker Swiss Cottage where she would give tours, host events and manage the gift shop among many other things. Samantha holds a Bachelor’s and Master's Degree in History from Northern Illinois University. Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum and Gardens preserves, protects and interprets Rockford's authentic history, heritage and culture to promote community and economic vitality. Contact Samantha at 815.964.2424 or via email at [email protected]
Susan - You really need to come down and do this tour! I'll go with you - with your geneology - you will love this......
Do you guys still do the event where you bring kids and they are dressed up in their costumes and do different activities.
Are you having paranormal tours this year? If so, I'd like to book a tour for my mom and I.
"Twirl everyday, be kind and make good wishes." - how to be a princess according to Snow White. Fairytale Tea Party July 8, 2017 We had a magical time. Thank you Tinker Swiss Cottage
Thank you so much for hosting a fabulous Fairytale Tea Party. Princess Abrianna (my granddaughter) and I had a magical time. The attention to detail, the food, the staff, the performers...everything was well thought out and just perfect. We will be back.