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.


February 8, 1883 – Drove over to Canada side + back – cold winds #TravelingTinker #Canadaorbust #justtosayhesbeenthere #dailytinker


February 7, 1878 – Went with Marcia + Jessie to Seminary entertainment #Bobandhisladies #familytime #MarciaandJessieDorr #RockfordFemaleSeminary #dailytinker


February 6, 1880 – Mrs. Clemens gave large party at Holland House – not very enjoyable #TinkersandDorrsthrowbetterparties #everyonesacritic #dailytinker


February 5, 1870 – Finished floor on my sitting room + oiled it #CottageConstruction #alwaystinkering #busyBob #dailytinker


February 4, 1880 – Went with girls to dancing academy in eve #Bobandhisladies #MarciandJessieDorr #familytime #dailytinker


February 3, 1883 – Put down carpet of new sitting room #Cottageconstruction #alwaystinkering #dailytinker


February 2, 1916 – Was so cold – teeth chattering. Unable to button pants to say nothing of collar #Bobbyitscoldoutside #brr #winterweather #dailytinker


February 1, 1851 – Our geometry class had to take the lesson over…Mother & Sarah went to the female prayer meeting #TeenageTinker #Victorianlife #dailytinker


January 31, 1915 – Walking very dangerous from ice-coated walks. Ventured to chh alone only once. #winterweather #watchyourstep #dailytinker


January 30, 1916 – Evening at hotel – streets darker than ever – 1 lamp on depo platform #TravelingTinker #winternights #dailytinker


January 29, 1892 – Called Dr. McAff for Wife who is no better of her fever #feelbettersoonMary #MarryDorrMannyTinker #itsfluseason #dailytinker


January 28, 1874 – At work compiling statistics for Rockford Gazette for 1873 #BusinessBob #alwaystinkering #Rockfordnews #dailytinker


January 27, 1880 – Took a dancing lesson with Marcia + Jessie #Bobandhisladies #dancingwiththenieces #familytime #dailytinker


January 26, 1889 – Met Will Dorr on street just in from Rockford + Katy – Made a new map of ranch for Patrick #ColoradoRanch #Bobssecondhome #meetingupwiththefamily #dailytinker


January 25, 1895 – Great snow storm all over the country #winterwonderland #brrr #letitsnow #dailytinker


January 24, 1865 – Smithsonian Institute badly burned … Attended noon prayer meeting at Brown’s Hall #uhoh #Victorianactivities #dailytinker


January 23, 1918 – Wife attended Snow’s funeral at Burpee’s rooms. Ted starting a cold but still in school + on errands #JessieDorrHurdTinker #TeddyTinker #BurpeeMuseum #dailytinker


January 22, 1909 – Squirrels in building a nest in pure cussedness have destroyed 5 years’ growth of grape vine on NE eaves of house #uhoh #Bobscussing #sortof #heseemsprettymad #watchoutsquirrels #Bobscomingforyou #dailytinker


January 21, 1851 – Mr. Morris, a missionary from the Chippeways, came and stayed till the next morning #TeenageTinker #overnightguests #dailytinker


January 20, 1853 – Father + Mother returned in good season to see what their children had been up to in their absence, found us right side up #TeenageTinker #7TinkerChildren #dailytinker


January 19, 1853 – I heard Father playing his violin this morning before I was up, so I thought that he was feeling better and found it so #RuebenTinker #morningmusic #TeenageTinker #dailytinker


January 18, 1909 – Agent Connors call to see about ground lease for office … Teddy asks for a change from cradle life #BusinessBob #babysgettingbig #TeddyTinker #dailytinker


Tinker Swiss Cottage will be closed today January 18, 2020 due to winter weather conditions. Stay warm and safe today! ❄️


January 17, 1909 – Looked over foreign diaries + letters for Vincent #revisitingtheEuropeanVacay1862 #reminiscing #dailytinker


January 16, 1913 – Warm with heavy fog snow going fast. Wife + I took our weekly massage #warmerwinter #wherecanwegethoseweeklymassages? #RobertandJessie #dailytinker


January 15, 1880 – All 5 of my family went in costume to the ball masque at Soomis #RobertMaryHannahMarciaJessie #TinkersandDorrs #Bobandhisladies #everyonelovesamasquerade #dailytinker


January 14, 1918 – First Ch’go papers for 3 days give a/c of blockade drifts storms coal famine – suffering all over the country #nogoodnews #Victoriannewspapers #dailytinker


January 13, 1883 – Marcia sick with cold #feelbettersoon #MarciaDorr #RobertandMarysniece #dailytinker


January 12, 1879 – Ch in forenoon with Mary. Sketch of her in evening. 2 inches of snow #lazySundays #husbandandwife #lovebirds #dailytinker


Tinker Swiss Cottage will be closed January 12th due to winter weather conditions. We hope you stay safe and warm this weekend! ❄️


January 11, 1853 – One of the scholars left school, I fear I shall have to go next half time to save the school from utter destruction #TeenageTinker #onlyalittledramatic #dailytinker


Tinker Swiss Cottage will be closed January 11th due to winter weather conditions. We hope you stay safe and warm this weekend! ❄️


January 10, 1856 – Thermometer 2 below 0. When I’m circulating around can easily imagine myself on an Arctic exploring expedition #quitetheimagination #brrr #winterdays #dailytinker


January 9, 1852 – Father was sick, Samuel went to the lyceum in the evening, but Sarah + I staid at home + studied Latin #TeenageTinker #Tinkerfamilytime #learningLatin #dailytinker


January 8, 1909 – Bot pocket book to take place of one stolen in Chicago #Bobseemstolosehispocketbookoften #bamboozledbytheives #timetogoshopping #dailytinker


January 7, 1900 – Rev Haskell gave at 4 o’ck service fine discourse on Slavery #SundayService #dailytinker


January 6, 1852 – Had a light fall of snow which improved the sleighing some. My sled went to ruins #TeenageTinker #winterwonderland #winterfun #dailytinker


January 5, 1884 – Stag banquet in the eve at Oat Meal mill by Goodwin #Victorianparties #BusinessBob #dailytinker


January 4, 1853 – I found under my plate at noon a fine present; namely an old pocket-book containing three dollars which I had lost some three months afo. #TeenageTinker #wonderwhofoundit #greatsurprises #dailytinker


January 3, 1854 – As John and I were starting out for the depot, it being very slippery he was taking a sudden turn down he came “ker flop” dis comflustrating his bumboozlements + knocking off this cover to his coconut #TeenageTinker #lookatallthosewords #poorJohnscoconut #dailytinker

The Lone Canary

Have you seen the music video that The Lone Canary filmed inside of Tinker Swiss Cottage?! 😍

Everything here has been moving at a crazy pace in the last few days! We're so excited to share with you the little music video we shot back in November at Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum and Gardens!

HUGE "thanks" goes out to our buddies Frank (Frank Slow Films), Josiah (Bonza Media, Inc.), Jordan McDonald (Littlebeck Studio), Yash, Samantha (Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum and Gardens), Alix & Jen (Catalyst Design & Photography) for all the work they put into filming this!




January 2, 1851 – This morning saw a very large stuffed ox belonging to Allen Wright which is intended to be … put in the museums #victoriantaxidermy #newandexciting #TeenageTinker #dailytinker


Tinker Swiss Cottage will be closed from December 22 - January 1 in observance of the holiday season. We hope you all have a wonderful time, and we look forward to seeing you in 2020! 🎉


January 1, 1877 – Much merriment drawing pigs with the eyes shut #HappyBirthdayRobert #NewYearsfun #startingtheyearoffright #bettheylaughedalot #dailytinker


December 31, 1916: 80th birthday. Happy congratulatory telegram from CS Brantingham et al. #HappyBirthdayBob #80yearsold #whatalife #dailytinker


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
Saturday 15:00 - 16:30
Saturday 13:00 - 14:30
Sunday 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.