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.


July 9, 1852: Joseph + I went in swimming in the evening and saw a display of natural fire works caused by a multitude of lightning-bugs #fireflies #lightningbugs #summertimefun #brothers #TeenageTinker #dailytinker


July 8, 1865: Up at 4 took early morning train for home – Blocked with landslides on track – Got nothing to eat till 12 reaching home at 5 pm #yikes #Bobmusthavebeenprettyhungry #TravelingTinker #dailytinker


July 7, 1893: Drove out with ladies to see the man working on the onyx slab #alwaystinkering #busyBob #BobandhisLadies #dailytinker


July 6, 1862: Watched the dying of the day behind a most beautiful sunset, singing a bit + quoting sonnets #lovelyday #poetic #summerfun #soundslikeagoodtime #dailytinker


July 5, 1852: I was glad to get home and thought as I walked under the skies of my own pleasant village that certainly there was, or is “No Place like Home.” #TeenageTinker #TravelingTinker #noplacelikehome #dailytinker


July 4, 1852: Some little urchins I perceived could not wait + were firing their crackers #4thofJuly #IndependenceDay #celebrations #TeenageTinker #firecrackers #dailytinker


Tinker Swiss Cottage will be closed today. Happy 4th of July! Have a safe and fun holiday! 🎉🇺🇸


#TBT April 6, 1882: Meeting of Park Commissioners at 4. John’s brother doing his chores #Tinkerfarm #alwaystinkering #BusinessBob #ParkCommissioner #dailytinker


Tinker Swiss Cottage will be closed tomorrow July 4th. Have a great and safe holiday!


July 3, 1873: Cutting grapes on Wife’s place #BusyBob #alwaystinkering #gardening #MannyMansion #dailytinker


July 2, 1852: A couple nights ago, when I witnessed the rising moon, not from an eminence but where I could see it just as well, and looking at it I discovered in place of the usual face what appeared to be a horse #moonlitnights #maninthemoon #abitunusual #itsahorsesface #TeenageTinker #dailytinker


July 1, 1902: Cleaned up in + about Villa 4. Roy Dorr helping #alwaystinkering #familyhelp #thanksRoy #dailytinker


June 30, 1916: Bro. Jos. Died in Canaan, Con. #JosephTinker #olderbrother #83yo #RIP #dailytinker


June 29, 1900: Trim’d linden trees over bridge. Tried my new leg in 4 noon. On trying to put it on in pm found stump too much swollen #BusyBob #newleg #railroadaccident #dailytinker


June 28, 1914: My little family of 3 went early to chh. West side union service at 7:30 in unfinished “Central Christian Ch.” Gordon spkr #Sundayfunday #familytime #dailytinker


June 27, 1882: Figuring on foundry for Ward. Offered him for 10 years @ 1200 #BusinessBob #busyBob #dailytinker


#TBT April 5, 1914: Ch[urc]h alone in forenoon. Afternoon + evening Mayhor Bennet + all the ministers preached prohibition #prohibition #Sundayservice #Bobsnotthrilled #dailytinker

Our volunteers had a blast this past Tuesday on our annual volunteer trip! This year we took a tour of Rockford - 1st: V...

Our volunteers had a blast this past Tuesday on our annual volunteer trip! This year we took a tour of Rockford - 1st: Veterans Memorial Hall and Museum, 2nd: Heritage Museum Park (Graham–Ginestra House & Ethnic Heritage Museum), and 3rd: Indian Hill Manor and Farm 🤗

You'll definitely want to add all these places to your Rockford bucketlist if you haven't been to them yet! 😍


June 26, 1867: Planted some Early Yorks up in the S.E. corner of my lot + sweet corn in N.W. corner. All went to Seminary in eve Closing service #FarmerBob #alwaystinkering #dailytinker


June 25, 1905: Dell McPherson Photo’d around the place for subjects for booklet – perhaps the place never before in such perfect order #Cottagegrounds #Tinkergardens #specialdays #dailytinker


Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum will be closed today. We apologize for any inconvenience and look forward to seeing you tomorrow!


June 24, 1882: Girls went to Beloit. Moved to brick house in forenoon – At noon had violent storm with hail doing much damage #summerstorms #excitingday #dailytinker


Tinker Swiss Cottage will be closed tomorrow June 25th. We apologize for any inconvenience.


June 23, 1875: Called meeting of Council to pass ordinance allowing us to cross streets #MayorTinker #BusinessBob #Rockfordhistory #dailytinker


June 22, 1909: Geo Clark turned up. Took old stove from basement out doors + set up kitchen stove in basement. Met Budlong at E + Co’s at 10 am in regard to cement walk – [Witch loony] Park board meeting at 4 pm. Jessie making awning for stone table #busyday #BusinessBob #dailytinker


June 21, 1915: Too busy or lazy for the last two weeks to make entry in this diary – Wife still worse #lazydays #feelbetterJessie #dailytinker


June 20, 1909: Presented son Theodore Henry at 2nd Cong chh for baptism – together with two Hemphill daughters. Walked out to Clover Ave in search of boulders #TeddyTinker #proudpapa #dailytinker


#TBT March 31, 1910: Much interest in Col. Roosevelt’s Roman visit #excitement #futurepresident #Roosevelt #dailytinker


June 19, 1872: Fearfully hot – 94. I wither like a cabbage leaf. Mowed the pasture – with machine. Moved from Cottage to Buff Brick. Letter from Stevens. Boat ride in eve with oars #summerdays #OnlyaLittleDramatic #Marysmansion #dailytinker


June 18, 1878: Polo excursion – fine day. Waterman + I took 11 o’ck train for Chicago #relaxing #Chicagobound #TravelingTinker #dailytinker


June 17, 1874: Moved from Cottage to Brick house #MarysMansion #summerhouse #justacrossthecreek #dailytinker


June 16, 1914: Wife + Ted in morn College class play – Rode about Bl. Hk park. Park Bd meeting at 4. John filing vases with pants. Arthur weeding + mowing #Busyday #alwaystinkering #BusinessBob #dailytinker


June 15, 1870: Hawaian Jubilee at Honolulu at Church #HawaiianHoneymoon #HonoluluHI #dailytinker


June 14, 1878: Bot Montague Island $275 #Livinglarge #letsgobuyanisland #dailytinker

Please join us in congratulating Gail Zahm on receiving a lifetime achievement award! 🏆Gail has been a volunteer at T...

Please join us in congratulating Gail Zahm on receiving a lifetime achievement award! 🏆Gail has been a volunteer at Tinker Swiss Cottage for the past 43 years, and we are looking forward to many more years to come! 🎉


June 13, 1890: Big flood at Rockford tearing out bridges #uhoh #springshowers #Rockfordhistory #dailytinker


#TBT February 18, 1868: Stained my cupboard. Party at Edward’s in Eve #CottageConstruction #diy #VictorianParties #busyday #BusyBob #dailytinker


June 12, 1867: Masons finished my basement 38 ½ cords including cistern at 18$ stone cutting + c $750 all told #CottageConstruction #masonry #dailytinker


June 11, 1867: Escorted 7 ladies to the opening concert at Seminary Chapel – Mrs. Mathson sung #Bobsaladiesman #whatastudmuffin #Rockfordsmosteligiblebachelor #dailytinker


June 10, 1911: Ted operated on by Dr. Hatch at St. Anthony Hospital for adenoid + tonsils. Called on Mrs. Carleton + also in pm at cemetery #StAnthonyHospital #Rockfordhistory #tonsilsurgery #feelbetterTed #dailytinker


June 9, 1852: Had an introduction to some celebrated French ladies and attended a fashionable French tea party #oohfancy #Frenchparties #livingitup #TeenageTinker #dailytinker


June 8, 1870: Sketched coconut tree + put up curiousities from Mr. Andrews #HawaiianHoneymoon #relaxingday #dailytinker


June 7, 1877: Thompson accepts offer on patents #BusinessBob #alwaystinkering #dailytinker


June 6, 1852: I guess that married people will learn to love one another if Father keeps at ‘em much longer, for this is the third Sunday he has preached on that subject #TeenageTinker #ReverandRuebenTinker #BobstiredofDadssermons #ahintofsnarkiness #dailytinker

Before and after photos of the Cottage from yesterday's tree removal. Thank you for all the supportive comments on our v...

Before and after photos of the Cottage from yesterday's tree removal. Thank you for all the supportive comments on our video yesterday! This was a difficult decision, but we know that the Cottage and our guests are safer.


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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