Latest Event Updates

What’s Up? January 2023

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Happy New Year! While the Tinker Cottage has been around for 158 years, 2023 is our 80th anniversary as a museum. That means we’re celebrating all year long with tons of tours, events, and celebrations!

Keep reading below to find out what’s up in January 2023!

Join Us for a Tour

The museum is open for tours with RESERVATIONS REQUIRED.

The museum is still under roof construction, so please keep in mind your tour may be loud due to construction work.

General History Tours are available Tuesday through Sunday at 1pm and 3pm. These Docent-led tours last for 60-90 minutes. Admission: $9/adults, $8/seniors, $5/kids 6-17, children 5 and under are free.

Donation Day for Illinois residents is every Tuesday and Wednesday! (Reservations required)

If you have a group of 8 or more, please contact us to book a special reservation for your group at (815) 964-2424 or info@tinkercottage.com.

GET INVOLVED

2022 Volunteer of the Year: Kathy Hillwig

We are thrilled to announce that Kathy Hillwig is our 2022 Volunteer of the Year!

Kathy has been with the museum since early 2021. From gardening to docenting, Kathy has been incredibly helpful and donated over 130 hours of her time to the museum this past year!

Congratulations Kathy! Thank you for enthusiastically sharing and participating in the rich history of Tinker Swiss Cottage!

Volunteering

Interested in giving tours? Want to share your gardening skills? Interested in cleaning or maintenance projects?

We’d love to have you join our volunteer team! If you are interested in becoming a Docent (tour guide), we are currently accepting Docent volunteer positions.

Our garden volunteers have been very busy this summer, but we are in serious need of additional garden volunteers this fall. We could use your help!

Our next meeting is on January 24 at 10am in the Carriage House.

For more information or to sign up, please email our Director at Samantha@tinkercottage.com

Membership

Have you renewed your Tinker membership for 2022?

Starting in 2022, Memberships will run from June 1-May 30. Family Memberships are $50/year and Individual Memberships are $25/year. Both membership tiers come with the following benefits: 

  •  Free General Admission
  •  Membership Recognition in the Annual Report
  •  Discount on Special Event Tickets
  •  Constant Contact updates and news from the museum
  •  10% Museum Store Discount
  •  Tinker Newsletter
  •  Membership to the Time Traveler Program with free and discounted admission into over 300 museums
  • across the country!

Be sure to renew your membership today by calling 815-964-2424 or visit our WEBSITE!

Thanks for checking in this month. We hope to see you soon!
Samantha

What’s Up? November 2022

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As another year comes winding down, check out the exciting moments wrapping up this year. Keep reading below to find out what’s up in November 2022!

Join Us for a Tour

The museum WILL BE CLOSED from November 1-11 due to Cottage Construction.

The museum WILL BE CLOSED from November 24-27 for the holiday weekend.

General History Tours are available Tuesday through Sunday at 1pm and 3pm. These Docent-led tours last for 60-90 minutes. Admission: $8/adults, $7/seniors, $5/kids 6-17, children 5 and under are free.

Donation Day for Illinois residents is November 15th and 22nd!

The museum will be staged for a Victorian Christmas exhibit from November 15 – January 29. All general history tours will learn about Victorian holiday traditions.

If you have a group of 8 or more, please contact us to book a special reservation for your group at (815) 964-2424 or info@tinkercottage.com.

GET INVOLVED

Volunteering

Interested in giving tours? Want to share your gardening skills? Interested in cleaning or maintenance projects?

We’d love to have you join our volunteer team! If you are interested in becoming a Docent (tour guide), we are currently accepting Docent volunteer positions.

Our garden volunteers have been very busy this summer, but we are in serious need of additional garden volunteers this fall. We could use your help!

Our next meeting is on November 22 at 11am in the Barn for our annual Volunteer Potluck.

For more information or to sign up, please email our Director at Samantha@tinkercottage.com

Membership

Have you renewed your Tinker membership for 2022?

Starting in 2022, Memberships will run from June 1-May 30. Family Memberships are $50/year and Individual Memberships are $25/year. Both membership tiers come with the following benefits: 

  •  Free General Admission
  •  Membership Recognition in the Annual Report
  •  Discount on Special Event Tickets
  •  Constant Contact updates and news from the museum
  •  10% Museum Store Discount
  •  Tinker Newsletter
  •  Membership to the Time Traveler Program with free and discounted admission into over 300 museums
  • across the country!

Be sure to renew your membership today by calling 815-964-2424 or visit our WEBSITE!

Thanks for checking in this month. We hope to see you soon!
Samantha

What’s Up? October 2022

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There are so many spook-tacular events happening this month at Tinker Swiss Cottage! Keep reading below to find out what’s up in October 2022!

Join Us For A Tour

General History Tours are available Tuesday through Sunday at 1pm and 3pm. These Docent-led tours last for 60-90 minutes. Admission: $8/adults, $7/seniors, $5/kids 6-17, children 5 and under are free.

Donation Day for Illinois residents is October 5th and 12th!

The museum will be staged for a Victorian funeral during the month of October. All general history tours will learn about Victorian mourning customs. There will be no paranormal discussion during our daytime tours.

If you have a group of 8 or more, please contact us to book a special reservation for your group at (815) 964-2424 or info@tinkercottage.com.

Paranormal Tour w/ Quantum Paranormal
October 7th 7-10pm

Tinker Swiss Cottage is excited to kick off the month of October with special guests, Quantum Paranormal! 

Join us for scintillating tales from paranormal experts, listen to audio clips found in the Tinker Cottage, and enjoy a tour with the chance to have your own paranormal encounter. You are welcome and encouraged to bring your own equipment (cameras, camcorders, audio recorders, emf). Each event begins in the Barn.

Tickets:
$20/members
$25/non-members
Purchase tickets HERE!

5th Annual Trunk or Treat
October 9th 1-3pm

Calling all monsters, princesses, super heroes, and cartoon characters! 

Join Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum as we partner with Anderson Toyota, Rockford Heating & Air, Blaine’s Farm & Fleet, and Nicholson Hardware to bring you our 5th Annual Trunk or Treat event! 

Enjoy Trunk or Treating in the historic Tinker Gardens, visit our farmer’s market vendors, and tour the first floor of the Cottage for free! 

You won’t want to miss out on this spook-tacular event! 

True Tales of Things That Go Bump in the Night
October 14th 7-10pm

Celebrate Halloween with Tinker Swiss Cottage and Haunted Rockford! Local authors Terri Reid and Kathi Kresol will be joining us for this special evening of spine-tingling and bone-chilling stories!
Terri Reid (best-selling author of the Mary O’Reilly paranormal series) and Kathi Kresol (founder of Haunted Rockford Paranormal Events) will share their favorite tales of their own paranormal encounters and other local legends. Both Terri and Kathi will have copies of their books for sale.

The price of admission will also include a tour of the Tinker Swiss Cottage, one of Rockford’s most haunted locations. 

Tickets:
$25/each
Purchase your tickets HERE!

Paranormal Tour w/ The Paranormal Professor
October 21st 7-10pm

Tinker Swiss Cottage is thrilled to have Joel Ramsey, the Paranormal Professor, join us once again! 

Join us for scintillating tales from paranormal experts, listen to audio clips found in the Tinker Cottage, and enjoy a tour with the chance to have your own paranormal encounter. You are welcome and encouraged to bring your own equipment (cameras, camcorders, audio recorders, emf). Each event begins in the Barn.

Tickets:
$20/members
$25/non-members
Purchase tickets HERE!

Most Haunted Rockford Tour
October 29th 6-11pm

Haunted Rockford is honored to be a part of this special event! We will be visiting three historical locations in Rockford: Veterans Memorial Hall, Tinker Swiss Cottage and Graham- Ginestra House. All of these sites have reported ghostly encounters and paranormal happenings. The history of these fascinating locations will be shared by the staff of the locations and Kathi Kresol. Sara Bowker will join us to share her impressions of who might linger in the halls. We will also have experienced paranormal investigators who will share their equipment to help capture evidence.

The exciting evening begins and ends at the Veterans Memorial Hall. Guests will be sorted into smaller groups and given directions for their tour. The guests will travel on their own to each location. The history of the houses and the ghostly encounters will be shared at each location. Then guests will join in a mini-investigation led by the different paranormal investigative teams. Guests may bring their own equipment or share the investigator’s. Guests will visit all three locations before returning to the Veterans Memorial Hall for a discussion on the findings.

​Doors open at 5:30 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Hall. This event will include members of the Society for Anomalous Studies, Ghost Head Soup and Midwest Ghost Investigators.
The event is a fundraiser for the historical locations involved with the event.

Tickets:
$50/each
Purchase your tickets HERE!

GET INVOLVED

Volunteering

Interested in giving tours? Want to share your gardening skills? Interested in cleaning or maintenance projects?

We’d love to have you join our volunteer team! If you are interested in becoming a Docent (tour guide), we are currently accepting Docent volunteer positions.

Our garden volunteers have been very busy this summer, but we are in serious need of additional garden volunteers this fall. We could use your help!

Our next meeting is on October 24th at 10am in the Carriage House.

For more information or to sign up, please email our Director at Samantha@tinkercottage.com

Membership

Have you renewed your Tinker membership for 2022?

Starting in 2022, Memberships will run from June 1-May 30. Family Memberships are $50/year and Individual Memberships are $25/year. Both membership tiers come with the following benefits: 

  •  Free General Admission
  •  Membership Recognition in the Annual Report
  •  Discount on Special Event Tickets
  •  Constant Contact updates and news from the museum
  •  10% Museum Store Discount
  •  Tinker Newsletter
  •  Membership to the Time Traveler Program with free and discounted admission into over 300 museums
  • across the country!

Be sure to renew your membership today by calling 815-964-2424 or visit our WEBSITE!

Thanks for checking in this month. We hope to see you soon!
Samantha

What’s Up? September 2022

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There are so many exciting events happening this fall at Tinker Swiss Cottage! Keep reading below to find out what’s up in September 2022!

Join Us For A Tour

General History Tours are available Tuesday through Sunday at 1pm and 3pm. These Docent-led tours last for 60-90 minutes. Admission: $8/adults, $7/seniors, $5/kids 6-17, children 5 and under are free.

Donation Day for Illinois residents is every Tuesday in September!

The museum will be closed September 3 & 4 in observance of the holiday weekend. The museum will not hold tours on September 17 & 18 due to public events.

If you have a group of 8 or more, please contact us to book a special reservation for your group at (815) 964-2424 or info@tinkercottage.com.

Legends, Myths, and Mayhem Along the Rock River Paranormal Tour w/ Haunted Rockford
September 9th 7-10pm

Haunted Rockford’s own Kathi Kresol and Sara Bowker have been researching ghost stories, true crimes, and odd tales of the local area for almost two decades. Their latest project will feature legends and myths Kathi has collected about the spooky side of the Rock River Valley. The river winds for 320 miles through small towns and beautiful landscapes. There is a rich history all along its banks but a darkness exists here too. The tales will feature stories of phantom hitch-hikers, haunted cemeteries, and vengeful spirits.

The price of admission will also include a tour of the Tinker Swiss Cottage, one of Rockford’s most haunted locations.

Tickets: $25 each
Purchase tickets HERE!

Tinker Visions in the Gardens Fundraiser
September 17th 3-5pm

Looking for a fun way to support the museum? Join us for our Tinker Visions in the Gardens fundraiser!

Enjoy an interesting afternoon in our historic Tinker Gardens. The program will be accompanied by free appetizer pizza from Linos and a sponsored dessert table from Nothing Bundt Cakes, with wine and beer available for purchase. There will also be live music by the JB Project, and first floor tours of the beautiful Tinker Swiss Cottage.

Funds raised through this event will ensure the continued care of the Cottage. Tinker Swiss Cottage was built in 1865 near the founding site of Rockford by Robert Tinker and was inhabited by the family until 1942. Today it has been restored to its Victorian Era grandeur and offers daily tours, rentals, and educational programing to the Rockford community.

This event is sponsored by Representative Maurice West and Abby Pest Elimination.

Tickets:
$30 each
$50 for 2 tickets
Purchase your tickets HERE!

Summer Lecture: “The French in the Mississippi Valley” – Ray Swenson
September 18th 2-4pm

Join us for our final summer lecture of 2022! 

The history of New France in North America and of the people who lived, worked, and explored the land that we know today as the Mississippi River Valley from Minnesota to Louisiana and from the Appalachians to the Rocky Mountains – this was the land of Nouvelle France. 

Presented by Ray Swenson, MA History, retired professor from Rock Valley College, and a Living History lecturer and presenter of American History for the past forty-four years. 

Tickets:
$5/members
$10/non-members
Purchase your tickets HERE!

GET INVOLVED

Volunteering

Interested in giving tours? Want to share your gardening skills? Interested in cleaning or maintenance projects?

We’d love to have you join our volunteer team! If you are interested in becoming a Docent (tour guide), we are currently accepting Docent volunteer positions.

Our garden volunteers have been very busy this summer, but we are in serious need of additional garden volunteers this fall. We could use your help!

Our next meeting is on September 27 at 10am in the Carriage House.

For more information or to sign up, please email our Director at Samantha@tinkercottage.com

Membership

Have you renewed your Tinker membership for 2022?

Starting in 2022, Memberships will run from June 1-May 30. Family Memberships are $50/year and Individual Memberships are $25/year. Both membership tiers come with the following benefits: 

  •  Free General Admission
  •  Membership Recognition in the Annual Report
  •  Discount on Special Event Tickets
  •  Constant Contact updates and news from the museum
  •  10% Museum Store Discount
  •  Tinker Newsletter
  •  Membership to the Time Traveler Program with free and discounted admission into over 300 museums
  • across the country!

Be sure to renew your membership today by calling 815-964-2424 or visit our WEBSITE!

Thanks for checking in this month. We hope to see you soon!
Samantha

Pyrography: A Victorian Pastime

Posted on Updated on

With the Industrial Revolution underway, it allowed Victorian’s unprecedented free time. This gave way to activities times for people of all ages, from circuses to shopping to many types of art and crafts. One of these art forms became extremely popular during this time: ‘pokerwork’ or pyrography. Commonly known as wood burning, this art from came about in the 17th century but became widely popularized by the late 19th century.

“Pyrography is the “art or process of producing designs or pictures (as on wood or leather) by burning or scorching with hot instruments and is also used as ornamentation (Merriam Webster).” For this hobby, the artist used hot metal rods of various sizes that needed to be frequently reheated. Because this process was so meticulous to create a single piece of artwork, it made the hobby very time consuming and strenuous.

As pyrography became popular in the Victorian Era, Robert Tinker quickly became an expert. We Robert created extensive and detailed pyrography throughout the house by hand and not by machine. Even though the machine version was invented during Robert’s time, the evidence in the Cottage indicates he likely did not use it. With the tiny detail he went into in most of this work, including the 7 Ancient Wonders of the World in the library, he likely used hand-held needles and pins to achieve such small and defined shades and lines.

Examples from the house:

New Invention

Originally, pyrography was done using hot metal pokers, pins and knives, and other small hot metal objects. In some cases, for small images, these metal pokers were wrapped in asbestos or wood. Victorians faced difficulties in controlling the heat of the pokers was hard to control for different burning shades that could be created, and this sparked many issues for earlier pyrographers.

However, in 1875, a French physician by the name of Dr. Claude Pacquelin, invented a cauterized machine.  Another pyrographer and inventor, Francois Manuel-Perier went on to give demonstrations of his adaptation of the invention at the International Exposition in Paris in 1889. In his model the metal tip could now be heat controlled. This new invention found great success once it hit the market. Artists from Germany and Austria sold them to tourists, and it eventually made its way to the United States.

We encourage you to check out all of Robert Tinker’s wood burning artwork throughout the cottage. Make sure to stop by for a tour, which take place at 1pm and 3pm Tuesday through Sunday.

~ Alexa, Summer Intern 2022

Sources Referenced:

Pyrography Definihttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pyrographytion & Meaning – Merriam-Webster

Easton, Simon. Woodburning with Style: Pyrography Lessons and Projects with a Modern Flair. Fox Chapel Publishing, 2010.

“Pyrography Tools of the Past”   Pyromuse, 24 Jan. 2013, http://pyromuse.org/oldtools.html.

Grapes: A Symbol of Wealth

Posted on Updated on

Symbolism played an active role in the lives of the Victorians and their predecessors, and grapes were a common symbol throughout history. The ancient Romans and Greeks (500 BC – 200 AD) associated grapes with prosperity and abundance. Many Greeks aligned with Dionysus, the Greek god of wine; however, the Romans called him Bacchus. Both of these gods were not only associated with wine but also fruitfulness, vegetation, and pleasure. The symbolism of grapes is tied to this. Most prosperous villas and houses in Greece and Rome flaunted their wealth by status symbols that could be seen by visitors as they entered. The Romans and Greeks would show this through art work kept in their house from statues to frescoes, paintings or mosaics. The ancients were not shy to show they came from good fortune.

In the Victorian Era (1837 –1901), however, the grapevines gained a new meaning as well. The grapevines symbolized friendship, connection, and determination. Grapes and grapevines can be found in almost every room of the Tinker Cottage. In the entryway, two Italian artists painted grapevines high on the wall as a border. Perhaps this is the Tinkers’ way of saying that you are welcome by showing this sign of connection and friendship to visitors. These images of grapevines and grapes can be found on cabinets and other furniture throughout the home. The grapes are found on picture frames, dresser handles, paintings, and bed headboards.

One way to interpret all the grapes in the home is through Mary Tinker and her wealth. Mary Dorr married John Manny in 1852, and the couple moved to Rockford where John started the Manny Reaper Works in 1853. When John passed in 1856, Mary inherited his mass fortune and moved into a mansion on the north side of Kent Creek. Once Mary and Robert Tinker married in 1870, some of these furnishings made their way into the Cottage. There is a large golden cornice board above the window sill in the Sitting Room that has many images of grapes. An interpretation of this could be that she wanted to show her wealth by putting grapes everywhere she could to indicate her status to others who entered the home.

We invite you to join us for a tour Tuesday through Sunday at 1pm or 3pm to hunt for these symbols yourself!

~ Alexa, Summer Intern 2022

Sources Referenced:

https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20180318-secret-symbols-in-still-life-painting

Savo, V., et al. “Grapevine (Vitis Vinifera L.) Symbolism in the Ancient Euro-Mediterranean Cultures.” Economic Botany, vol. 70, no. 2, 2016, pp. 190–97. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/24825364. Accessed 23 Jun. 2022.

Ancient Culture in the Victorian Era

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Throughout the Tinker Swiss Cottage there are many signs that the Tinkers enjoyed ancient Roman and Greek culture. Some historians and scholars have come to refer to the Victorian Era (1837-1901) as the Second English Renaissance. Many pieces of furniture and decorations of this time have stylistic elements from ancient Greece and Rome, mirroring Rococo and Renaissance Revival pieces. Many times inspiration came from ancient Rome and Greece.

One sign in the Tinker home that they had an appreciation for ancient Greek and Rome culture is by examining the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World in the Library. Underneath the floor of the balcony inside the Library, Robert Tinker wood burned the Seven Ancient Wonders, which include: The Great Pyramids of Giza, Colossus of Rhodes, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Statue of Zeus, Temple of Artemis, Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, and Pharos (Lighthouse) of Alexandria.

Figure 1: The Seven Ancient Wonders of the World as wood burned by Robert Tinker.

Another sign that the Tinkers shared a fascination with the ancient Romans and Greeks can be found in the Serving Kitchen. The image of the Bay of Alexandria (likely where the Lighthouse of Alexandria was located) in ruins can be seen on the Serving Kitchen wall closest to the Conservatory door. It should be noted that this was one of the locations Robert Tinker traveled to in 1862-1863. Given that Robert sketched all of the landscapes, and that the Bay of Alexandria is the largest landscape in the room, it can be inferred that the Tinkers favored the classics (ancient Greek and Roman culture).

Figure 2: Bay of Alexandria painted in the Serving Kitchen.

Perhaps a much deeper connection to the ancient Greeks in particular comes from the Seven Stages of Man that comes from William Shakespeare’s play, As You Like It.

“…we must mention in connection with the three stages two Greek poets. Hesiod (8th century B.C.) speaks of the acts of the young” – L. Landau “Some Parallels to Shakespeare’s ‘Seven Ages’

A similar connection can be drawn to Hesiod’s, Five Stages of Man. According to Hesiod, an ancient Greek scholar, the Five Stages of man include, in order from oldest to present day: The Golden Age, the Silver Age, the Bronze Age, the Age of Heroes, and the Iron Age. However, Shakespeare’s Seven Stages of Man include, in order from youngest to oldest: infant, child, lover, soldier, judge, old man, and extreme old age. On the pocket door in the Library there are seven men which represent Shakespeare’s Seven Stages of Man. These images were wood burned by hand by Robert Tinker.

Figure 3: The Seven Stages of Man on the Library’s pocket door.

Along with the door representing the Seven Stages of Man, there is also a mustard jar on the mantle in the Library that shows the Seven Stages of Man as well.

Figure 4: Mustard Jar

We invite you to look for these pieces while touring Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum and Gardens. Tours are Tuesday through Sunday at 1pm or 3pm. We hope to see you there!

~Alexa, Summer Intern 2022

Sources:
https://www.mcall.com/news/mc-xpm-1988-10-09-2669359-story.html

https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/seven-wonders-ancient-world

Landau, L. “Some Parallels to Shakespeare’s ‘Seven Ages.’” The Journal of English and Germanic Philology, vol. 19, no. 3, 1920, pp. 382–96. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/27701017. Accessed 24 Jun. 2022.

What’s Up? August 2022

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There are so many exciting events happening this summer at Tinker Swiss Cottage! Keep reading below to find out what’s up in August 2022!

Join Us For A Tour

Join us for a tour Tuesdays through Sundays at 1pm and 3pm. Due to the removal of IL State Mandate, we are no longer requiring face masks. The wearing of face masks will be left up to each individual person.

Donation Days for Illinois residents will be on August 10th and 24th!

To reserve your tour date and time, you can either call our office at 815-964-2424 or send an email to info@tinkercottage.com.

Exhibit Ending: Victorian Gentlemen’s
Fashion Accessories!

Photo of Robert Tinker in his early 20s provided by Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum.

Have you ever wondered what those dapper gentlemen of the Victorian Era used to dress up their outfits? Well, you’re in luck! From April 26 – August 30, head to toe accessories of the Victorian man will be displayed in the Red Room of the Cottage.

This exhibit is included in our General History Tours available Tuesday through Sunday at 1pm & 3pm. The exhibit closes on August 30th.

Paranormal Tour w/ The Illinois Paranormalists
August 5th 7-10pm

Tinker Swiss Cottage is excited to welcome The Illinois Paranormalists to share evidence of some of their most intriguing investigations on August 5th! 

Join us for scintillating tales from paranormal experts, listen to audio clips found in the Tinker Cottage, and enjoy a tour with the chance to have your own paranormal encounter. You are welcome and encouraged to bring your own equipment (cameras, camcorders, audio recorders, emf). Each event begins in the Barn.

Tickets:
$20/members
$25/non-members
Purchase tickets HERE!

Summer Lecture: “Barnstormers and Biplanes: The Early Days of Aviation” – Mike Frederiksen
August 14th 2-4pm

You’ve heard about the Wright Brothers & Amelia Earhart, but what about Harriet Quimby or the Barnstormers? Join local historian Mike Frederiksen as we explore early aviation history!

This program focuses on the fascinating era of early aviation from the turn-of-the-century until the 1920’s. Discover how the Wright Brothers became interested in flight, see what makes airplanes fly, and learn about some of the major names in the early aviation world, including the Barnstormers and the Air Mail pilots. The aim of this program is to showcase the early period of aviation, chart its development from recreational showmanship to potential commercial utilization, and focus on the many pioneers who were daring enough to use this new form of transportation. These early days of aviation served as a crucible for the development of air travel and as such the focus will be on discussing its history. Following the seminar there will be a short question and answer period.

Tickets:
$5/members
$10/non-members
Tickets are purchased HERE!

Yoga in the Gardens August 17th 6-7pm

We are thrilled to be the recipient of a Forward to Fun Grant from the City of Rockford, which will allow us to host 4 of these free events this summer!! This month we will host our final event of the season.

Midweek blues got you feeling tired and sluggish? Come join us for our Yoga in the Gardens Series and get the reset you need to make it through the work week! Our tranquil garden is the perfect setting for this instructor-led Hatha Vinyasa Flow class.

Meet the Instructor:
Sarah was first introduced to yoga 7 years ago while studying psychology and immediately saw the benefits of mindfulness and mediation. She is a certified Yoga instructor with over 200 hours of experience.

Event Details:
When? August 17th from 6:00-7:00pm

Cost? FREE! Reservations are required, so sign up today to reserve your spot!

Where? 411 Kent St. Rockford, Il. 61102 Check in is in the Barn.

What should I bring? Positive energy! Yoga mats will be available for use for the first 20 people to sign up at each event. If you have a yoga mat, we suggest bringing it with you. We will provide water and light refreshments.

This event is sponsored by: Hard Rock Rockford, Northwest Illinois Building Trades, FehrGraham, Rockford Mass Transit District, Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 23, IBEW Local 364, City of Rockford, and Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Book your spot HERE!

August Summer Camp: Made in Rockford
August 16-19 8am-1pm

This summer make Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum the place for summertime fun for your child! Children will explore overarching historic themes while participating in activities, games, crafts, and other projects.

​Students will discover what put Rockford on the map, both nationwide and worldwide! Come prepared to get messy as we dive into history! 

You will need to send a snack and lunch with your child each day. Water bottles will be provided.

Reserve your child’s spot HERE!
$80/members
$100/Non-members

Illinois Paranormal Conference
August 20 10am-5pm

Haunted Rockford Paranormal Events and Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum and Gardens are proud to present the 2022 Illinois Paranormal Conference!

Join speakers and vendors from all aspects of Paranormal Research. Speakers will include Dale Kaczmarek, Sylvia Shults, Scott Markus, Society for Anomalous Studies member Cindy Heinen, Anna Lardinois, and Chad Lewis.

​This event will be held at Veterans Memorial Hall. 
Tickets are $25 and must be paid in advance.
Purchase your tickets HERE!

Paranormal Investigation w/ Haunted Rockford
August 20 7-11pm

Did you ever want to see what a real paranormal investigation is all about? This is your chance to find out!

This exciting event will let you be the paranormal investigator! Guests will be in small groups as you join the team in the most active locations in the Cottage. You are welcome and encouraged to bring your own equipment (cameras, camcorders, audio recorders, emf). This event begins in the Barn.
Samantha from Tinker will share the history of the houses and details of the ghostly encounters and then the paranormal team will show you how to operate their equipment. Haunted Rockford’s Kathi Kresol and Tinker Staff will share their personal experiences at this very active location! Tickets are $40 and must be paid in advance.
Purchase your tickets HERE!

GET INVOLVED

Volunteering

Interested in giving tours? Want to share your gardening skills? We’d love to have you join our volunteer team! If you are interested in becoming a Docent (tour guide), we are currently accepting Docent volunteer positions.

Our garden volunteers have resumed gardening activities. We have multiple areas we need your help in. Our Victorian Rose Garden, Historic Iris Garden, and Railroad Gardens are all in need of some TLC. If you or anyone you know would be interested in joining our garden team, please don’t hesitate to reach out! We have specific garden mornings every Friday from 9am-2pm, but we are very flexible with your schedule if a better day works for you!

Our August volunteer meeting will be held on Tuesday August 23 at 10am in the Carriage House.

For more information or to sign up, please email our Executive Director at Samantha@tinkercottage.com

Membership

Have you renewed your Tinker membership for 2022?

Starting in 2022, Memberships will run from June 1-May 30. Family Memberships are $50/year and Individual Memberships are $25/year. Both membership tiers come with the following benefits: 

  •  Free General Admission
  •  Membership Recognition in the Annual Report
  •  Discount on Special Event Tickets
  •  Constant Contact updates and news from the museum
  •  10% Museum Store Discount
  •  Tinker Newsletter
  •  Membership to the Time Traveler Program with free and discounted admission into over 300 museums
  • across the country!

Be sure to renew your membership today by calling 815-964-2424 or visit our WEBSITE!

Thanks for checking in this month. Enjoy the warm weather!
Samantha

What’s Up? July 2022

Posted on

There are so many exciting events happening this summer at Tinker Swiss Cottage! Keep reading below to find out what’s up in July 2022!

Join Us For A Tour

Join us for a tour Tuesdays through Sundays at 1pm and 3pm. Due to the removal of IL State Mandate, we are no longer requiring face masks. The wearing of face masks will be left up to each individual person.

Donation Days for Illinois residents will be on July 5th and 19th!

To reserve your tour date and time, you can either call our office at 815-964-2424 or send an email to info@tinkercottage.com.

Current Exhibit: Victorian Gentlemen’s
Fashion Accessories!

Photo of Robert Tinker in his early 20s provided by Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum.

Have you ever wondered what those dapper gentlemen of the Victorian Era used to dress up their outfits? Well, you’re in luck! From April 26 – August 30, head to toe accessories of the Victorian man will be displayed in the Red Room of the Cottage.

This exhibit is included in our General History Tours available Tuesday through Sunday at 1pm & 3pm. The exhibit closes on August 30th.

Yoga in the Gardens July 6th 6-7pm

We are thrilled to be the recipient of a Forward to Fun Grant from the City of Rockford, which will allow us to host 4 of these free events this summer!!

Midweek blues got you feeling tired and sluggish? Come join us for our Yoga in the Gardens Series and get the reset you need to make it through the work week! Our tranquil garden is the perfect setting for this instructor-led Hatha Vinyasa Flow class.

Meet the Instructor:
Sarah was first introduced to yoga 7 years ago while studying psychology and immediately saw the benefits of mindfulness and mediation. She is a certified Yoga instructor with over 200 hours of experience.

Event Details:
When? July 6th from 6:00-7:00pm

Cost? FREE! Reservations are required, so sign up today to reserve your spot!

Where? 411 Kent St. Rockford, Il. 61102 Check in is in the Barn.

What should I bring? Positive energy! Yoga mats will be available for use for the first 20 people to sign up at each event. If you have a yoga mat, we suggest bringing it with you. We will provide water and light refreshments.

This event is sponsored by: Hard Rock Rockford, Northwest Illinois Building Trades, FehrGraham, Rockford Mass Transit District, Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 23, IBEW Local 364, City of Rockford, and Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Book your spot HERE!

Summer Lecture: “H.H. Holmes: Beyond the Devil in the White City” – John Borowski
July 10th 2-4pm

Explore the darker side of Chicago history with award-winning filmmaker John Borowski as he discusses the history of H.H. Holmes, the making of his film H.H. Holmes: American’s First Serial Killer, and his book, The Strange Case of Dr. H.H. Holmes. Borowski will have copies of his book and DVD for purchase & autographs.

Borowski is an award winning independent filmmaker and author whose film works have garnered international acclaim and have been distributed internationally on DVD, television, and streaming.

Tickets:
$5/members
$10/non-members
Tickets are purchased HERE!

Paranormal Investigation w/ Haunted Rockford & The Society for Anomalous Studies
July 16th 7-11pm

Tinker Swiss Cottage is excited to partner with Haunted Rockford to bring our friends from the Society for Anomalous Studies back to Rockford! 

Did you ever want to see what a real paranormal investigation is all about? This is your chance to find out. This event will let you be the paranormal investigator! Guests will be in small groups as you join the staff in the most active locations in the cottage. you are welcome and encouraged to bring your own equipment. All events begin in the barn.
Tickets are $40 and must be paid in advance. 

Purchase tickets HERE!

July Summer Camp: Tinkering Around with the Tinkers July 26-29 8am-1pm

This summer make Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum the place for summertime fun for your child! Children will explore overarching historic themes while participating in activities, games, crafts, and other projects.

Students will experience what life was like for the Victorian family that called the Cottage home.​ Come prepared to get messy as we dive into history! 

You will need to send a snack and lunch with your child each day. Water bottles will be provided.

Reserve your child’s spot HERE!
$80/members
$100/Non-members

GET INVOLVED

Volunteering

Interested in giving tours? Want to share your gardening skills? We’d love to have you join our volunteer team! If you are interested in becoming a Docent (tour guide), we are currently accepting Docent volunteer positions.

Our garden volunteers have resumed gardening activities. We have multiple areas we need your help in. Our Victorian Rose Garden, Historic Iris Garden, and Railroad Gardens are all in need of some TLC. If you or anyone you know would be interested in joining our garden team, please don’t hesitate to reach out! We have specific garden mornings every Friday from 9am-2pm, but we are very flexible with your schedule if a better day works for you!

Our July volunteer meeting will be held on Tuesday July 19th at 10am.

For more information or to sign up, please email our Executive Director at Samantha@tinkercottage.com

Membership

Have you renewed your Tinker membership for 2022?

Starting in 2022, Memberships will run from June 1-May 30. Family Memberships are $50/year and Individual Memberships are $25/year. Both membership tiers come with the following benefits: 

  •  Free General Admission
  •  Membership Recognition in the Annual Report
  •  Discount on Special Event Tickets
  •  Constant Contact updates and news from the museum
  •  10% Museum Store Discount
  •  Tinker Newsletter
  •  Membership to the Time Traveler Program with free and discounted admission into over 300 museums
  • across the country!

Be sure to renew your membership today by calling 815-964-2424 or visit our WEBSITE!

Thanks for checking in this month. Enjoy the warm weather!
Samantha

What’s Up? June 2022

Posted on

We are so excited to see you this spring! Keep reading below to find out what’s up in June 2022!

Join Us For A Tour

Join us for a tour Tuesdays through Sundays at 1pm and 3pm. Due to the removal of IL State Mandate, we are no longer requiring face masks. The wearing of face masks will be left up to each individual person.

Donation Days for Illinois residents will be on June 1st and 15th!

To reserve your tour date and time, you can either call our office at 815-964-2424 or send an email to info@tinkercottage.com.

Current Exhibit: Victorian Gentlemen’s
Fashion Accessories!

Photo of Robert Tinker in his early 20s provided by Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum.

Have you ever wondered what those dapper gentlemen of the Victorian Era used to dress up their outfits? Well, you’re in luck! From April 26 – August 30, head to toe accessories of the Victorian man will be displayed in the Red Room of the Cottage.

This exhibit is included in our General History Tours available Tuesday through Sunday at 1pm & 3pm starting on April 26th.

Summer Lecture: “The ‘Underground Railroad’ in the Rock River Valley”
June 12th 2-4pm

In the times leading up to the American Civil War, Illinois residents were affected by the institution of slavery, despite the state’s status as a declared free state. Fugitive black slaves would enter and traverse Illinois in their attempts to escape slave catchers and achieve freedom.

Among the primary routes was the corridor leading from certain Mississippi River crossings in Missouri to lower Lake Michigan communities in northeastern Illinois and southeastern Wisconsin, through the Rock and Fox River Valleys. From there freedom seekers were compelled to emigrate to Canada where slave-catching was not allowed.

The Lucius Read house in Byron, Illinois is verified to have been an “Underground Railroad” (UGRR) safehouse, or “Station” in UGRR code terms. It is today a designated “Network to Freedom” site of the U.S. National Park Service.

Dan Wykes, Educator at the museum, presents a detailed overview in the guise of an UGRR “conductor.” Visual slides and a display of period artifact reproductions (including firearms as appropriate to the age group and setting of the presentation) support the presentation.

Yoga in the Gardens June 15th 6-7pm

We are thrilled to be the recipient of a Forward to Fun Grant from the City of Rockford, which will allow us to host 4 of these free events this summer!!

Midweek blues got you feeling tired and sluggish? Come join us for our Yoga in the Gardens Series and get the reset you need to make it through the work week! Our tranquil garden is the perfect setting for this instructor-led Hatha Vinyasa Flow class.

Meet the Instructor:
Sarah was first introduced to yoga 7 years ago while studying psychology and immediately saw the benefits of mindfulness and mediation. She is a certified Yoga instructor with over 200 hours of experience.

Event Details:
When? June 15th from 6:00-7:00pm

Cost? FREE! Reservations are required, so sign up today to reserve your spot!

Where? 411 Kent St. Rockford, Il. 61102 Check in is in the Barn.

What should I bring? Positive energy! Yoga mats will be available for use for the first 20 people to sign up at each event. If you have a yoga mat, we suggest bringing it with you. We will provide water and light refreshments.

This event is sponsored by: Hard Rock Rockford, Northwest Illinois Building Trades, FehrGraham, Rockford Mass Transit District, Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 23, IBEW Local 364, City of Rockford, and Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Book your spot HERE!

Reaching Beyond the Veil: Communicating with the Dead Paranormal Tour
June 18th 7-10pm

The Summer Solstice is almost here and in order to celebrate, Haunted Rockford is inviting some of our favorite psychics from the area. Haunted Rockford’s own Sara Bowker and guest Tessa Lentz will share some of their favorite encounters with the dead. There will also be a chance for you to share your own close encounters with the spirit world.

Eve Harker from Luna Datura will be along to share her expertise of protecting yourself and your home from unwanted visitors. The price of admission will include a tour of the Tinker Swiss Cottage led by Executive Director Samantha Hochmann who will share her own chilling tales of this very historic (and haunted!) location! Tickets are $25 and must be paid in advance. 

Purchase tickets HERE!

June Summer Camp: Native Americans & The Great Outdoors June 21-24 8am-1pm

This summer make Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum the place for summertime fun for your child! Children will explore overarching historic themes while participating in activities, games, crafts, and other projects.

​Students will learn about the Native American tribes that called the Northern Illinois region home and how nature impacted their way of life. Come prepared to get messy as we dive into history! 

You will need to send a snack and lunch with your child each day. Water bottles will be provided.

Reserve your child’s spot HERE!
$80/members
$100/Non-members

GET INVOLVED

Volunteering

Interested in giving tours? Want to share your gardening skills? We’d love to have you join our volunteer team! If you are interested in becoming a Docent (tour guide), we are currently accepting Docent volunteer positions.

Our garden volunteers have resumed gardening activities. We have multiple areas we need your help in. Our Victorian Rose Garden, Historic Iris Garden, and Railroad Gardens are all in need of some TLC. If you or anyone you know would be interested in joining our garden team, please don’t hesitate to reach out! We have specific garden mornings every Friday from 9am-2pm, but we are very flexible with your schedule if a better day works for you!

Our June volunteer meeting will double as our Volunteer Luncheon on June 28th at 11am in the Barn. Please contact staff to book your spot at this event.

For more information or to sign up, please email our Executive Director at Samantha@tinkercottage.com

Membership

Have you renewed your Tinker membership for 2022?

Starting in 2022, Memberships will run from June 1-May 30. Family Memberships are $50/year and Individual Memberships are $25/year. Both membership tiers come with the following benefits: 

  •  Free General Admission
  •  Membership Recognition in the Annual Report
  •  Discount on Special Event Tickets
  •  Constant Contact updates and news from the museum
  •  10% Museum Store Discount
  •  Tinker Newsletter
  •  Membership to the Time Traveler Program with free and discounted admission into over 300 museums
  • across the country!

Be sure to renew your membership today by calling 815-964-2424 or visit our WEBSITE!

Thanks for checking in this month. Enjoy the warm weather!
Samantha

Victorian Gentlemen’s Fashion Accessories

Posted on

The Victorian Gentlemen’s Fashion Accessories exhibit is up in the Red, Green, and Yellow Rooms of the Cottage, and we are excited to share some more information with you about this new exhibit!

©Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum, Tinker Collection, 2010.003

The Many Accessories of the Victorian Man

While we do not have many articles of clothing from Robert Tinker, we do have many of his accessories! In the Red Room you will see hats, canes, shoes, and other accessories that all belonged to Robert. We also have two mannequins in period accurate clothing (waist up). 

Hats– “The 1850s saw the introduction of a new hat style that would eventually rival the top hat for supremacy later in the century: the hard felt, dome-crowned bowler. The famous, aristocratic hatter, Locke’s of St. James, introduced the style, and it became an alternative to the top hat for daytime wear in town.” (Ginsburg, Madeliene. The Hat: Trends and Traditions. London: Studio Editions, 1990.)

Glasses– The most iconic piece of eyewear popularized in the 1800s was the monocle, meant for vision correction in one eye only. Monocle wearers were usually men in society’s upper classes. Pince-nez, French for “pinch nose,” glasses were developed and popularized in the late 1800s and early 1900s. These glasses were not supported by earpieces and stayed on by gently pinching the nose. Pince-nez glasses were sported by U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt.

Ties– There were many different types of neckwear Victorian gentleman wore, here are some examples. Unfortunately, we do not have any of Roberts to display.      

Pins and Pocket watches– Political pins were very popular at this time; they were great ways to show one’s political beliefs and for politicians to get their name out there, after all this was before they could bombard everyone with ad’s. Pocket watches were a mark of a true gentleman and a clear status symbol in Victorian times. There are different styles of Victorian pocket watches, including open-face watches, hunter-case watches which have a cover that can be released to show the watch’s crystal face and a demi-hunter watch.

Cufflinks-According to Gatsby Jewelry, “By the mid-1800s, the demand for cufflinks emanated from the whole economic spectrum, from the working class to the bourgeoisie. Consequently, the shirt front, collar, and cuffs covering areas of the most wear were made sturdier – this was practical, but when clean and starched, collars and cuffs also typified the formal character of the clothing. By the 1840s, cufflinks assumed their recognizable form – gold, silver, or pearl buttons held together by a brass chain. It was not only men who wore cufflinks, mind – women also wore them as shirts with buttons attached were rare. Despite the release of sport shirts and the resurgence of unstarched cuffs in the 1920s, cufflinks remained popular with men, a steady demand prompting manufacturers to produce cufflinks for all social classes during the Great Depression and World War II.” Unfortunately, we do not have any of Roberts to display.     

Jackets-  Jackets were typically made in dark colored cloth, and throughout the Victorian Era maintained a narrow silhouette and high waist seam. The lounge or sack suit, featuring a single-breasted jacket without a waist seam, became common choice during the late 1800’s for working men and was increasingly worn by upper-class men as a relaxed alternative day suit. White tie and tailcoats remained the correct dress for evening events. Below are some examples of full suits and the above mentioned jackets.

     Jno. J. Mitchell Co.. American Fashions: Menswear, August 1899. Print. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, LC-DIG-pga-03142. Source: Library of Congress

Canes- For centuries, canes and walking sticks have been a necessity. However, in the Victorian era, they served an equally important function- adding to a gentleman’s outfit and signifying his wealth and status. Wealthy men would often own canes made of exotic woods that featured ornate handles, signifying how well traveled they were. 

Myth Busted!

Why one of Robert Tinkers accessories had to be tested for human remains! We affectionately refer to it as “Robert’s Ankle Bone Umbrella”, albeit it a misnomer, as this piece was actually taken to Springfield in 2001 to be analyzed by State Police Crime Lab and The Illinois State Museum, and does not contain any of Roberts Ankle bone. So where did this umbrella get that nickname? Well after Roberts accident in March of 1900, he wrote in his journals that he had a gardener bury his foot somewhere on the property. He later writes that he asked the gardener to “unbury” it; however, there is a mystery surrounding if they could ever find it. We have firsthand accounts from Theodore Tinker, Roberts son, confirming that Robert would tell people that the material in the handle of this umbrella is his ankle bone. Thusly solidifying our claims to Robert being quite the prankster and all around funny guy. The material in said umbrella is actually an early form of plastic.

©Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum, Tinker Collection, 2006.150

Where Did Victorian Men Purchase Their Clothing?

The hatband next to the photo of Gye Hurd is from “Hurd and Hepburn”, which was the shop that Gye Hurd co-owned.  In 1894, Jessie Dorr married Gye J.C. Hurd, a dressmaker and tailor from Chicago whose photo is shown below. The couple remained in Chicago for their first year of marriage where Gye owned the Hurd & Hepburn Company. In 1895, they moved to Rockford where they lived in one of the Tinker Villas located at 712 Winnebago Street. Gye opened a dressmaking business in their home and was well-known for his skills in the community until his passing in 1897.

Before the Victorian Era, tailors mended and created clothing for men by hand. However, in the 1850s Isaac Singer built the first commercially successful sewing machine. With the Industrial Revolution in full swing, it became easy for companies to mass produce clothing in factories with less skilled laborers. Skilled tailors still held a desirable place in society as their clothing was known to be more durable than the cheaper clothing sold by factories. 

©Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum, Tinker Collection, 2006.015.71

This exhibit will be on display until August 30th! Join a tour Tuesday through Sunday at 1pm or 3pm to see the interesting pieces of Victorian Gentlemen’s Fashion!

~ Stephanie

What’s Up? May 2022

Posted on

We are so excited to see you this spring! Keep reading below to find out what’s up in May 2022!

Join Us For A Tour

Join us for a tour Tuesdays through Sundays at 1pm and 3pm. Due to the removal of IL State Mandate, we are no longer requiring face masks. The wearing of face masks will be left up to each individual person.

Donation Days for Illinois residents are every Tuesday in May!

The museum will be closed for Memorial Day weekend from May 28-30th.

To reserve your tour date and time, you can either call our office at 815-964-2424 or send an email to info@tinkercottage.com.

New Exhibit: Victorian Gentlemen’s
Fashion Accessories!

Photo of Robert Tinker in his early 20s provided by Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum.

Have you ever wondered what those dapper gentlemen of the Victorian Era used to dress up their outfits? Well, you’re in luck! From April 26 – August 30, head to toe accessories of the Victorian man will be displayed in the Red Room of the Cottage.

This exhibit is included in our General History Tours available Tuesday through Sunday at 1pm & 3pm starting on April 26th.

Friday the 13th Paranormal Tour w/
Haunted Rockford May 13th 7-10pm

Celebrate Friday the 13th Haunted Rockford Style!

Haunted Rockford’s own Kathi Kresol and Sara Bowker have been researching ghost stories, true crimes, and odd tales of the local area for almost two decades.  Their latest project will feature legends and lore Kathi has collected about the spooky side of the Rock River Valley. The river winds for 320 miles through small towns and beautiful landscapes. There is a rich history all along its banks but a darkness exists here too. The tales will feature stories of phantom hitch-hikers, haunted cemeteries, and vengeful spirits.

The price of admission will also include a tour of the Tinker Swiss Cottage, one of Rockford’s most haunted locations. Executive Director Samantha Hochmann will thrill you with her own stories of this very active location.

All events begin in the Barn. Tickets are limited! Tickets are $25 and must be paid in advance HERE!

Mom’s Day at the Distillery Fundraiser
May 15th 12-6pm

Join Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum at Barnstormer Distillery for a new and exciting fundraising event! 

Come out to enjoy the beautiful spring weather at the local “farm distillery” situated on a 22-acre property on Sunday May 15th between 12-6pm. There will be custom drinks and delicious food, with a portion of the day’s drink proceeds being donated back to Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum! 

Live music by Justin Beaver will take place from 12-3pm. The BatchZ BBQ food truck will be on sight from 12-4pm. Our goal is to raise $5000, and we need your help to get there!! Relax, have a few drinks with your lunch, and come out to support the museum! 

Yoga in the Gardens May 18th 6-7pm

We are thrilled to be the recipient of a Forward to Fun Grant from the City of Rockford, which will allow us to host 4 of these free events this summer!!

Midweek blues got you feeling tired and sluggish? Come join us for our Yoga in the Gardens Series and get the reset you need to make it through the work week! Our tranquil garden is the perfect setting for this instructor-led Hatha Vinyasa Flow class.

Meet the Instructor:
Sarah was first introduced to yoga 7 years ago while studying psychology and immediately saw the benefits of mindfulness and mediation. She is a certified Yoga instructor with over 200 hours of experience.

Event Details:
When? May 18th from 6:00-7:00pm

Cost? FREE! Reservations are required, so sign up today to reserve your spot!

Where? 411 Kent St. Rockford, Il. 61102 Check in is in the Barn.

What should I bring? Positive energy! Yoga mats will be available for use for the first 20 people to sign up at each event. If you have a yoga mat, we suggest bringing it with you. We will provide water and light refreshments.

This event is sponsored by: Hard Rock Rockford, Northwest Illinois Building Trades, FehrGraham, Rockford Mass Transit District, Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 23, IBEW Local 364, City of Rockford, and Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Book your spot HERE!

Earth Day Clean Up Rescheduled May 20th 10am-12:30pm

Join Tinker Swiss Cottage as we spend a few hours cleaning and preparing our gardens for spring! This event will begin at the Carriage House.

Speakeasy Murder Mystery May 20 6-8pm

Tinker Swiss Cottage is excited to partner with Haunted Rockford to bring our friends from Ghost Head Soup back to Tinker Cottage! 

Did you ever want to see what a real paranormal investigation is all about? This is your chance to find out! This event will let you be the paranormal investigator! Guests will be in small groups as you join the staff in the most active locations in the Cottage. You are welcome and encouraged to bring your own equipment.

All events begin in the Barn. Tickets are limited and must be purchased in advance!

Tickets:$25/non-members, $20/members
Tickets are available HERE!

A Sneak Peak into this Spring!

Murder Mystery Nights, Paranormal Events, Summer Lecture Series… We have so many amazing programs coming up this spring!

For the first time in a decade, Tinker Swiss Cottage is offering Summer Camps for Kindergarten-5th graders!

Be sure to follow our website, HERE, to get your early tickets to these events!

GET INVOLVED

Volunteering

Interested in giving tours? Want to share your gardening skills? We’d love to have you join our volunteer team! If you are interested in becoming a Docent (tour guide), we are currently accepting Docent volunteer positions.

Our garden volunteers have resumed gardening activities. We have multiple areas we need your help in. Our Victorian Rose Garden, Historic Iris Garden, and Railroad Gardens are all in need of some TLC. If you or anyone you know would be interested in joining our garden team, please don’t hesitate to reach out! We have specific garden mornings every Friday from 9am-2pm, but we are very flexible with your schedule if a better day works for you!

Our May volunteer meeting will be on May 24th at 10am in the Barn.

For more information or to sign up, please email our Executive Director at Samantha@tinkercottage.com

Membership

Have you renewed your Tinker membership for 2022? Current 2021 memberships will be extended to May 30, 2022.  

Starting in 2022, Memberships will run from June 1-May 30. Family Memberships are $50/year and Individual Memberships are $25/year. Both membership tiers come with the following benefits: 

  •  Free General Admission
  •  Membership Recognition in the Annual Report
  •  Discount on Special Event Tickets
  •  Constant Contact updates and news from the museum
  •  10% Museum Store Discount
  •  Tinker Newsletter
  •  Membership to the Time Traveler Program with free and discounted admission into over 300 museums
  • across the country!

Be sure to renew your membership today by calling 815-964-2424 or visit our WEBSITE!

Thanks for checking in this month. Enjoy the warm weather!
Samantha

The Dapper Victorian Gentleman

Posted on

It’s that time of year again where the exhibits change in the Red, Yellow, and Green Rooms! For the next few months, when you attend a General History Tour, you’ll be able to see some of the many accessories of the dapper Victorian gentleman.

Men’s Fashion and Social Status

When we think of men’s fashion during the Victorian Era (1837-1901) the vision of an impeccably dressed gentleman complete with a coat and top hat typically comes to mind, as that is what movies and shows usually depict for men during that era. However, men’s fashion changed quite a bit over those 60+ years, and just like today, many factors effected the way a man dressed and accessorized. Age, socioeconomic status, and organizational affiliation all altered the way a man dressed and accessorized. Here are two photos of Robert Tinker, on the left looking like a dapper young gent, and on the right looking like a more refined older gentleman.

©Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum, Tinker Collection, 2010.003
©Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum, Tinker Collection, 2012.500

It is important to remember that much of the Victorian Era overlapped with The Second Industrial Revolution, 1870-1914. At this time, many lower and middle class men worked in poorly regulated factories, coal mines, and railway systems. This left them less interested in fashion trends as their clothes would end up covered in soot anyways.

Railroad Workers in Clinton County, c.1890s

Another way a man’s clothing signified his social standing was through specialized fraternal club accessories. For instance, here is a photo of Dawson, a gardener who worked for the Tinkers. Like Robert Tinker, Dawson was a freemason. We know this because of the masonic watch fob with the Knights of Templar symbol, indicating he was a part of the Scottish Right. Political affiliation was also often displayed with accessories, such as the pin you see in the display cabinet.

©Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum, Dawson, Tinker Gardener, Tinker Collection, 2006.015.48a
©Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum, Back of the McKinley pin, Tinker Collection, 2012.208

Men’s Personal Grooming During the Victorian Era

In the green room you will see Roberts shaving set and comb. Most men in the Victorian era kept their hair short, and instead focused their grooming efforts in their facial hair. In fact, men were influenced to refrain from dying their hair and even using pomades in it- as they were bad for one’s health, according to Don’t: a manual of mistakes and improprieties more or less prevalent in conduct and speech – a guide book on the rules of society. Many books like this existed and all sought to help inform men what was expected of them. Many fashion trends throughout the Victorian Era began in Britain and made their way across the pond, and growing beards was one of them! Beards were actually banned in the British army until the Crimean War of 1854-1856, but the freezing temperatures of Crimean winters, and the impossibility of getting shaving soap, led to a necessary change. When men came back from war with thick beards they were immediately in vogue and seen in many fashion magazines and adopted in America.

Various facial hair trends saw popularity during the Victorian Era, a few of our favorites are on display in the green room.

Fun Facial Hair Facts

In 1844 Charles Dickens wrote to his friend Daniel Maclise about his new passion: “The moustaches are glorious, glorious. I have cut them short, and trimmed them a little at the ends to improve their shape. They are charming, charming. Without them, life would be a blank.”

During the American Civil War of 1861-65, the word “sideburns” was coined. It was a tribute to Maj Gen Ambrose Burnside, whose bushy moustache had been allowed to connect with his whiskers and formed an impressively thick and unbroken line of hair right across his face.

In 1895 American inventor King Camp Gillette came up with the idea of the first disposable razor blade. It took six years – and much pain – to perfect his invention, but in 1901 he managed to persuade others to try it out. The disposable razor was a sensation and the patent was granted in 1904.

Be sure to visit the museum for more information on Victorian Gentlemen’s Accessories this spring! General History Tours are Tuesday through Sunday at 1pm and 3pm. We look forward to seeing you there!

~Stephanie

What’s Up? April 2022

Posted on

We are so excited to see you this spring! Keep reading below to find out what’s up in April 2022!

Join Us For A Tour

Join us for a tour Tuesdays through Sundays at 1pm and 3pm. Reservations are no longer required starting in April; however, please note the capacity for these general history tours remains capped at 15 guests. Due to the removal of IL State Mandate, we are no longer requiring face masks. The wearing of face masks will be left up to each individual person.

Donation Days for Illinois residents are every Wednesday in April!

To reserve your tour date and time, you can either call our office at 815-964-2424 or send an email to info@tinkercottage.com.

New Exhibit: Victorian Gentlemen’s Fashion Accessories – opens April 26th!

Photo of Robert Tinker in his early 20s provided by Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum.

Have you ever wondered what those dapper gentlemen of the Victorian Era used to dress up their outfits? Well, you’re in luck! From April 26 – August 30, head to toe accessories of the Victorian man will be displayed in the Red Room of the Cottage.

This exhibit is included in our General History Tours available Tuesday through Sunday at 1pm & 3pm starting on April 26th.

Earth Day Clean Up April 22 10am-12:30pm

Join Tinker Swiss Cottage this Earth Day as we spend a few hours cleaning and preparing our gardens for spring! This event will begin at the Carriage House.

Paranormal Investigation w/ Ghost Head Soup
April 23 7-11pm

Tinker Swiss Cottage is excited to partner with Haunted Rockford to bring our friends from Ghost Head Soup back to Tinker Cottage! 

Did you ever want to see what a real paranormal investigation is all about? This is your chance to find out! This event will let you be the paranormal investigator! Guests will be in small groups as you join the staff in the most active locations in the Cottage. You are welcome and encouraged to bring your own equipment.

All events begin in the Barn. Tickets are limited and must be purchased in advance!

Tickets:$40 
Tickets are available HERE!

A Sneak Peak into this Spring!

Murder Mystery Nights, Paranormal Events, Summer Lecture Series… We have so many amazing programs coming up this spring!

For the first time in a decade, Tinker Swiss Cottage is offering Summer Camps for Kindergarten-5th graders!

We also have a special fundraising event coming up on May 15th: Mom’s Day at the Distillery! Partnering with Barnstormer Distillery, a portion of the proceeds from sales on May 15th will come back to the museum! Our goal is to reach $5,000, and we need your help to get there!

Be sure to follow our website, HERE, to get your early tickets to these events!

GET INVOLVED

Volunteering

Interested in giving tours? Want to share your gardening skills? We’d love to have you join our volunteer team! If you are interested in becoming a Docent (tour guide), we are currently accepting Docent volunteer positions.

Our garden volunteers will resume in April. We have multiple areas we need your help in. Our Victorian Rose Garden, Historic Iris Garden, and Railroad Gardens are all in need of some TLC. If you or anyone you know would be interested in joining our garden team, please don’t hesitate to reach out! We have specific garden mornings every Friday from 9am-2pm, but we are very flexible with your schedule if a better day works for you!

For more information or to sign up, please email our Executive Director at Samantha@tinkercottage.com

Membership

Have you renewed your Tinker membership for 2022? Current 2021 memberships will be extended to May 30, 2022.  

Starting in 2022, Memberships will run from June 1-May 30. Family Memberships are $50/year and Individual Memberships are $25/year. Both membership tiers come with the following benefits: 

  •  Free General Admission
  •  Membership Recognition in the Annual Report
  •  Discount on Special Event Tickets
  •  Constant Contact updates and news from the museum
  •  10% Museum Store Discount
  •  Tinker Newsletter
  •  Membership to the Time Traveler Program with free and discounted admission into over 300 museums
  • across the country!

Be sure to renew your membership today by calling 815-964-2424 or visit our WEBSITE!

Thanks for checking in this month. Enjoy the warm weather!
Samantha

The Illinois Cottage

Posted on Updated on

Have you heard of the Illinois Cottage? Not us – the other one!

If you are confused, don’t worry, so were we when we began researching this topic. If you’ve been to Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum and Gardens, you may have heard your docent mention a children’s home that Jessie Dorr Hurd Tinker raised funds for: the McFarlane Children’s Home. 

Image Courtesy of the Rockford Public Library

Prior to recent investigation, we assumed this children’s home was the one that sat approximately where our parking lot is today, as that has always been the story we’ve heard. However, history is ever changing as new information is discovered. Upon further research, we found that this particular children’s home sat at 1904 N. Main St.

So, that begs the question: which children’s home was near the Tinker’s Cottage?

The Illinois Cottage opened in 1918 and was located at 507 Kent Street. It operated as a home for crippled children and unwed mothers. No doubt the home took some inspiration for its name from its neighbor, the Tinker Swiss Cottage! 

Images Courtesy of the Rockford Public Library
Images Courtesy of the Rockford Public Library

Jessie Dorr Hurd Tinker, Robert’s second wife, was involved with the Board of the Illinois Cottage in its early years, and she would host ice cream social fundraisers in the gardens to help raise money for the children’s home. Here’s a photo we have from one of her ice cream social events:

Image Courtesy of Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum

The Illinois Cottage was incorporated and renamed the Children’s Convalescent Home in 1927, providing services to convalescing children and adults. From 1940-1960, programs for neglected, dependent, and abused children were expanded to meet growing community needs.

In 1970, the Children’s Convalescent Home moved to Rockton, IL and was renamed the Goldie B. Floberg Center after a Winnebago County Chief Juvenile Probation Officer who was a strong supporter of the Center and children in the community. Today the Center’s main focus is “to serve children and adults with developmental disabilities and autism to ensure access to a safe home, progressive learning supports, and life-enrichment and empowerment.” 

Home - GOLDIE B. FLOBERG CENTER

While the center has changed names and locations over the past century, it still operates as a beacon of hope for those who may not find it elsewhere, and we are proud to say it began as our neighbor. 

Next time you are on tour feel free to ask your docent about our current and former neighboring buildings!

On a side note, April 1st is the first day of Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month and we encourage everyone to visit https://www.autismspeaks.org/world-autism-month to learn more about autism, and how to be a better advocate for someone with autism. 

AAM

Image from https://sites.uab.edu/humanrights/2021/04/02/the-shift-from-autism-awareness-month-to-autism-acceptance-month/ 

~Stephanie