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.


April 1 – “Thursday, April Fool’s Day, 1852 – I wasn’t made a fool of; the reason was that I’m so much of one already.” #TeenageTinker #AprilFoolsDay #dailytinker


Tinker Swiss Cottage will remain closed until April 30th as we follow the Shelter in Place order. We hope you and your families remain safe and healthy during this time, and we look forward to seeing you again this coming summer!


#TinkerTopics Throughout the month of April we will share videos on different "Tinker Topics" 🤩 We hope you enjoy this series, and if there are any specific topics you would like to learn more about, please feel free to drop those suggestions in the comments!


March 31, 1908: Attended Elks show at Opera Ho. #nightout #RockfordOperaHouse #dailytinker


March 30, 1920: Sister Mary badly burned in tenement house of Belle Harvey in Calif. #MaryTinker #Robertssister #shepassesfromherinjuries #dailytinker


March 29, 1914: Everybody remained at home. Daddy resting Wife headachy. Ted earache #Tinkerfamily #RobertJessieandTeddy #feelbettersoonTinkers #dailytinker


March 28, 1918: Called on Dr. Cubbins to examine my throat but he “gone to the war”. #WorldWarI #WWI #medicswereneeded #dailytinker


March 27, 1852: A fugitive slave arrived from Canada where he had been for the last 6 months…Staid here #Abolitionistfamily #helpingtheirfellowman #Tinkerfamily #TeenageTinker #dailytinker


First Floor Cottage Tour


March 26, 1872: Had tooth filed. Spring like. First blue bird! #springiscoming #Victoriandentistry #dailytinker

Can't come to us? We're coming to you!

Looking for something fun to do this week? Join us on Facebook Live this coming Friday at 11:30am (CST) as we take a first floor tour of the museum!


March 25, 1851: Was a beautiful day, I began to make garden #TeenageTinker #gardening #Tinkerfamilyfarm #warmerweatheriscoming #dailytinker


March 24, 1900: Miserable night – dawn found me with my first head ache in ¼ of century #whenitrainsitpours #hospitalrecovery #Railroadaccident1900 #headaches #dailytinker


March 23, 1900: Got into wheelchair. Tried to stand on crutches but failed #Railroadaccident1900 #keeptryingBob #hospitalrecovery #dailytinker


March 22, 1889: Evening at Art Academy Russian War paintings #supportthearts #artfans #Victoriansociety #eveningout #dailytinker


March 21, 1877: Made several fruitless attempts to borrow money #SorryBob #roughtimes #dailytinker


March 20, 1868: Threw bridge over creek from my place #shortcuttoMaryshouse #makinglifeeasier #Victoriancourting #futurewifesproperty #dailytinker


March 19, 1875: Same party called to see if I would run for Mayor #spoileralert #heaccepts #MayorTinker #Mayorof1875 #Rockfordhistory #dailytinker


March 18, 1865: Crossed the Mississippi on foot, on ice. No train East. Walked 17 miles to Galena, without dinner #TravelingTinker #BusinessBob #thatsdedication #backinmyday #wewentuphillbothways #dailytinker


March 17, 1900: St Patricks Day – gave a shamrock badge to all my nurses…Capsized in wheel chair in trying to get onto commode #Railroadaccident1900 #hospitalrecovery #1900Bobisaccidentprone #betBobgotagoodlaughafterwards #dailytinker


March 16, 1917: Kept indoors reading bad war + Rail rd strike news #WorldWarI #WWInews #railroadstrikes #notagreatyear #dailytinker


March 15, 1881: Wood of Opera House here to tea #Fancyguests #teatime #Victorianvisits #dailytinker


Tinker Swiss Cottage will be closed through March 30th. We apologize for any inconvenience and hope everyone stays safe and healthy over the next two weeks!


March 14, 1909: 5th wedding anniversary. [With Jessie] #RobertandJessie #Tinkerfamily #Congratulations #Happy116thAnniversary #dailytinker


March 13, 1851: Was a splendiferous evening. Attended the meetings #TeenageTinker #splendiferous #itsagoodday #dailytinker


Tinker Swiss Cottage will be closed today March 13 for maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope you all have a great day!


March 12, 1864: Returned from Freeport at noon…Spent eve at White’s, had minstrel performance #BusinessBob #Victorianmuic #dailytinker


Tinker Swiss Cottage will be closed today March 12 for maintenance.


March 11, 1851: School closed without any examinations #TeenageTinker #luckykids #Victorianschooling #itsagoodday #dailytinker


March 10, 1870: Plastered china closet #Cottageconstruction #alwaystinkering #dailytinker


March 9, 1852: 13 of us little numheads assembled to discuss the merits of Caesar #TeenageTinker #Victorianschooling #alwayslearning #dailytinker


March 8, 1902: Started a white chin beard experimental #Bobsgrowingabeard #hedoesntkeepit #mustacheman #dailytinker


March 7, 1895: Mother died suddenly at noon at the old home #RIPMaryWoodThroopTinker #Tinkerfamily #dailytinker


March 6, 1868: Rainy dark day – Creek rising. Marina + I slept at HOME #Visitingthefamilyhome #TravelingTinker #brotherandsister #MarinaTinker #dailytinker


March 5, 1874: Jessie swallowed quicksilver. Old Lady Hitchcock died at midnight #TeenageJessie #JessieDorr #dontdrinkmercuryJessie #RIPOldLadyHitchcock # #dailytinker


March 4, 1865: Lincoln reinaugerated…brot a big sycamore tree home #Tinkergardens #PresidentLincoln #heyweknowthatguy #Victorianpolitics #dailytinker


March 3, 1900: Fell under freight-car…had left foot crushed. Hurried to hospital. Foot taken above ankle #Bobs63yo #majorinjury #byebyefoot #poorBob #ouchx1000 #dailytinker


March 2, 1855: The pump refused to go, so we have to draw the water from the well with a pail #teenagetinker #Victorianproblems #winterproblems #dailytinker


March 1, 1893: Hanah slipd on sidewalk #ouch #HannahDorr #sisterinlaw #winterhazards #watchyourstep #dailytinker


February 29, 1912 – Kept my bed all day – Sager sent some little pills – big thing! #feelbettersoonBob #roughday #thanksDrSager #dailytinker


February 28, 1900 – Hannah finds lump – near incision fears Sager hit a bowel. God knows…I can only worry #sisterinlaw #HannahDorr #shediesfrombreastcancer #dailytinker


February 27, 1878 – Reached Boston about 9 am. Stopped at Revere House #TravelingTinker #PaulRevere #USHistory #dailytinker


February 26, 1909 – Lundstrum widened rockers for Ted’s cradle #TeddyTinker #alwaystinkering #rockabyebaby #dailytinker


February 25, 1920 – Tripd at City Fall lift landing on nose – not serious #FebruaryisnotBobsmonth #ouch #becarefulBob #dailytinker


February 24, 1912 – Visited Made in Rockford Exhibit in am #RockfordHistory #supportlocalhistory #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.