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Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum & Gardens protects, preserves and interprets Rockford's authentic history, heritage and culture to promote economic and community vitality.
Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum is a treasure trove of a time gone by. Rockford, Illinois businessman Robert Hall Tinker built the home in 1865, perching it high on a limestone bluff overlooking Kent Creek. His inspiration came from an 1862 tour of Europe where he fell in love with the architecture of Switzerland. Today the Cottage is one of only a handful of Swiss-style homes remaining in the United States from the 1800s.
Tinker surrounded his Swiss Cottage with trees, vines, winding pathways and flower beds. A three-story Barn housed cows, chickens and in later years the family car. On the backside of the Cottage, a suspension bridge crossed Kent Creek and linked the Cottage with Mrs. Tinker's property on the far bank. In 1906, after the railroad bought her estate, Robert Tinker planted elaborate gardens at the end of the bridge.
The Tinker family, the sole occupants of the Swiss Cottage, left their home to the Rockford Park District and their household belongings to trustees after seventy-five years of residence. Filled with original furnishings, artwork, diaries and household items, the Cottage is a rich time capsule of life a century ago. In 1943 Tinker Swiss Cottage opened to the public as a Museum. Tours, exhibits, programs and exhibits are offered year round for visitors of all ages. Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum is supported in part by the Rockford Park District.