Latest Event Updates

Victorian Gentlemen’s Fashion Accessories

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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

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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

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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

What’s Up? March 2022

Posted on

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

Join Us For A Tour

Join us for a tour Tuesdays through Sundays at 1pm and 3pm. For the month of March, reservations are REQUIRED for your tour as the capacity for these general history tours are 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 are every Tuesday and Wednesday in March! Remember to make your reservations for these dates as well!

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: The Extended Family – closes March 20th!

Victorian households consisted of more than just the main nuclear family who lived in them. This exhibit will explore the lives of some of the lesser known family members who lived in the Cottage, as well as lives of some of their servants and pets.

This exhibit is included in our General History Tours available Tuesday through Sunday at 1pm & 3pm. The Extended Family exhibit closes on March 20!

Paranormal Tour w/ Midwest Ghost Investigators

Tinker Swiss Cottage is excited to partner with the Midwest Ghost Investigators for our first Paranormal Tour of 2022! 

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: $25/non-members $20/members
Purchase 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 are on hiatus for the winter months. Work in the gardens 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

Lemon’s Legacy

Posted on Updated on

For Black History Month, we want to highlight one of the three founders of our city. Germanicus Kent, Lewis Lemon, and Thatcher Blake made their way from Chicago towards Galena, stopping “Midway” between the two cities. Continue reading on to learn of Lewis Lemon’s legacy: How a man born enslaved became a founding father of Rockford, Illinois.

Lewis Lemon is a name that is probably familiar to most people in the Rockford region. After all, his namesake elementary school is located in the southwest corridor and has been in operation since 1993.

Lewis Lemon Elementary School - Home | Facebook

However, many people do not know who Lewis Lemon was or why a school was named after him. Lewis was born into slavery in North Carolina in 1812 and was owned by a man named Orrin Lemon. In 1829, Orrin moved to Alabama and sold Lewis, then 17 years old, to a man named Germanicus Kent for $450.

It is worth mentioning that at the time, it was customary for enslaved individuals to take the last name of their owner, so some historical texts refer to Lewis Lemon as Lewis Kent.

In the winter of 1832-33, Kent moved to Galena, Illinois, and Lewis traveled with him. Lewis struck a deal with Germanicus Kent. The two men agreed that Lewis would purchase his freedom by working for another seven years of servitude for Kent.

While in Galena, Kent met a man named Thatcher Blake, and they decided to explore the region that is now commonly referred to as the Rock River Valley. Lewis accompanied the two men halfway through the trip then went back to Galena while Kent and Blake followed the Rock River towards the south. While heading back north, Kent decided he liked the area where a creek (that he would go on to name after himself) and the Rock River converged. In April of 1835, Kent, Blake, and Lemon returned to the area along Kent Creek and stopped approximately where the Tinker Swiss Cottage railroad gardens are today. They began to build the settlement that, in less than 20 years, would evolve into the city of Rockford.

In 1839, at the age of 27, Lewis Lemon completed his years of servitude and purchased his freedom for $800 + 10% interest, the equivalent of approximately $25,000 today. Lewis was given a deed of manumission. This document declared his freedom and is the only documented evidence of slavery being present in Rockford.

Image courtesy of the African American Gallery at the Ethnic Heritage Museum

As a freeman, Lewis worked for Milton Kilburn, whom Kilburn Avenue is named after. Lewis Lemon worked for Kilburn for a number of years as a cook, then it seems that he may have left the county and even the state for a number of years. There is no mention of Lewis in the census or pioneer festivals during the 1850’s, 1860’s, or 1870. However, in 1871, Lewis reappeared in Rockford and became a member of the Old Settlers Society, of which Thatcher Blake was the president.

There are a few other mentions of Lewis Lemon in the local newspapers during the 1870’s at Old Settler celebrations and other events. We also know that he maintained his own garden and made a living running a produce stand. Lewis passed away in September of 1877. He was buried in an unmarked grave in Greenwood Cemetery, and the funeral costs were funded by the Old Settlers Society. Eventually, in 1976, students at Wilson Middle School raised money to put a much needed marker on his gravesite.

Larger memorial image loading...

Though Lewis Lemon has been gone for 145 years, his impact is still felt today in the Rockford region. We are proud to call him a founding father of our city. To learn more about Lewis Lemon or other influential African Americans that helped shape the region, consider visiting our neighbors at the Ethnic Heritage Museum or the African American Resource Center at Booker Washington!

~Stephanie

Sources

https://www.mystateline.com/news/lewis-lemons-role-in-rockfords-history/653170863/

Past and Present of the City of Rockford and Winnebago County, Illinois by Charles A. Church.

What’s Up? February 2022

Posted on

We are so excited for 2022! Keep reading below to find out what’s up in February 2022!

Join Us For A Tour

Join us for a tour Tuesdays through Sundays at 1pm and 3pm. For the month of February, reservations are REQUIRED for your tour as the capacity for these general history tours are capped at 15 guests. Adhering to IL State Mandate, we are still requiring all staff, volunteers, and visitors over the age of 2 to wear face masks while inside the buildings.

Donation Days are every Tuesday and Wednesday in February! Remember to make your reservations for these dates as well!

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: The Extended Family – closes March 20th!

Victorian households consisted of more than just the main nuclear family who lived in them. This exhibit will explore the lives of some of the lesser known family members who lived in the Cottage, as well as lives of some of their servants and pets.

This exhibit is included in our General History Tours available Tuesday through Sunday at 1pm & 3pm. The Extended Family exhibit closes on March 20! 069f61

Rental Options at Tinker Swiss Cottage

Hosting an Event? Wedding? Bridal Shower? Birthday Party? Business Meeting? Try Tinker!

If you are looking for a location for your next event, wedding, or meeting– look no further than Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum! In the Lower Level of our Barn (located below the Gift Shop) the facility can host up to 60 people for your next event!

Rentals include the use of two restrooms, a catering kitchen, and all tables and chairs are provided. The Barn is heated and air-conditioned for your comfort any time of the year! Need a space for a meeting? Our Barn has WiFi, as well as a screen and projector for presentations and trainings. Interested in having your wedding ceremony or reception at Tinker? Our indoor space can be used for the ceremony/reception and can hold up to 60 people. An outdoor ceremony/reception can hold up to 150 people!

Rentals are booked in four hour time slots, all year round, Tuesday– Sunday.

If you are interested please contact the museum at 815-964-2424 or email info@tinkercottage.com to discuss terms, conditions, and rental rates!

GET INVOLVED

2021 Volunteer of the Year!

Please join us in congratulating Mari Mattocks as our 2021 Volunteer of the Year!! Mari has dedicated over 100 hours this year volunteering in our gardens, as a tour guide, and as a board member. She has been involved at Tinker Swiss Cottage since the fall of 2018 and has been a huge asset to the museum. Mari is a retired realtor who also devotes her time to helping with CASA. We are honored to have so many amazing volunteers like Mari here at Tinker Cottage!

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 are on hiatus for the winter months. Work in the gardens 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. Stay warm!
Samantha

What’s Up? January 2022

Posted on

We are so excited for 2022! Keep reading below to find out what’s up in January 2022!

Join Us For A Tour

Join us for a tour Tuesdays through Sundays at 1pm and 3pm. For the months of January and February, reservations are REQUIRED for your tour as the capacity for these general history tours are capped at 15 guests. Adhering to IL State Mandate, we are still requiring all staff, volunteers, and visitors over the age of 2 to wear face masks while inside.

Donation Days are every Tuesday and Wednesday in January!

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.

A Cottage Christmas

From November 9th-January 24th, the Cottage will be decorated for the winter holidays! During our General History Tours, guests will learn about Victorian Christmas traditions and decorations.

Current Exhibit: The Extended Family

Victorian households consisted of more than just the main nuclear family who lived in them. This exhibit will explore the lives of some of the lesser known family members who lived in the Cottage, as well as lives of some of their servants and pets.

This exhibit is included in our General History Tours available Tuesday through Sunday at 1pm & 3pm.

GET INVOLVED

2021 Volunteer of the Year!

Please join us in congratulating Mari Mattocks as our 2021 Volunteer of the Year!! Mari has dedicated over 100 hours this year volunteering in our gardens, as a tour guide, and as a board member. She has been involved at Tinker Swiss Cottage since the fall of 2018 and has been a huge asset to the museum. Mari is a retired realtor who also devotes her time to helping with CASA. We are honored to have so many amazing volunteers like Mari here at Tinker Cottage!

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 are on hiatus for the winter months. Work in the gardens 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. We hope you have a wonderful holiday season!
Samantha

What’s Up? December 2021

Posted on

This year has flown by, and we’re already in the final month of 2021! So, what’s up this December?

Join Us For A Tour

Join us for a tour Tuesdays through Sundays at 1pm and 3pm. We still highly recommend making a reservation for your tour as the capacity for these general history tours are capped at 15 guests. Adhering to IL State Mandate, we are still requiring all staff, volunteers, and visitors to wear face masks while inside.

Donation Days are December 8th & 15th!

The Cottage WILL BE CLOSED from December 23-January 3 in observation of the holiday season.

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.

A Cottage Christmas

From November 9th-January 24th, the Cottage will be decorated for the winter holidays! During our General History Tours, guests will learn about Victorian Christmas traditions and decorations.

Current Exhibit: The Extended Family

Victorian households consisted of more than just the main nuclear family who lived in them. This exhibit will explore the lives of some of the lesser known family members who lived in the Cottage, as well as lives of some of their servants and pets.

This exhibit is included in our General History Tours available Tuesday through Sunday at 1pm & 3pm.

December 4: Ghost of Christmas Past w/ Haunted Rockford 7-10pm

Come celebrate the holidays Haunted Rockford style at Tinker Swiss Cottage! 

This program will start in the Barn. Kathi Kresol will present some stories from the darker side of the Holiday Season. Tinker’s Executive Director, Samantha Hochmann, will share the history of this incredible location and share the ghostly encounters experienced by staff and visitors. 

Guests will be allowed to tour the house and see the most haunted rooms. The house will be decorated for the Holidays in true Victorian fashion! 
Tickets:$25 and are available 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 are starting to get the gardens ready for winter! 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 Annual Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast will be held on Tuesday, December 14th. To RSVP, please contact Samantha.

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

Membership

Have you renewed your Tinker membership for 2021? All 2020 memberships will be extended through 2021 due to the museum’s closure due to COVID-19 in 2020. 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. We hope you have a wonderful holiday season!
Samantha

What’s Up? November 2021

Posted on

As the year is drawing to a close, join us as we take a look at what’s up in November of 2021!

Join Us For A Tour

Join us for a tour Tuesdays through Sundays at 1pm and 3pm. We still highly recommend making a reservation for your tour as the capacity for these general history tours are capped at 15 guests. With the recent IL State Mandate, we are still requiring all staff, volunteers, and visitors to wear face masks while inside.

Donation Days are November 2nd, 9th, and 16th!

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.

A Cottage Christmas

From November 9th-January 24th, the Cottage will be decorated for the winter holidays! During our General History Tours, guests will learn about Victorian Christmas traditions and decorations.

Current Exhibit: The Extended Family

Victorian households consisted of more than just the main nuclear family who lived in them. This exhibit will explore the lives of some of the lesser known family members who lived in the Cottage, as well as lives of some of their servants and pets.

This exhibit is included in our General History Tours available Tuesday through Sunday at 1pm & 3pm.

November 13: Paranormal Tour w/ The Paranormal Professor Joel Ramsey 7-10pm

We are thrilled to have our friend Joel Ramsey, the Paranormal Professor, return this fall for a fascinating presentation on Saturday, November 13th!
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:$25 for Non-Members, $20 for Members. Tickets are available 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 are starting to get the gardens ready for winter! 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 2021? All 2020 memberships will be extended through 2021 due to the museum’s closure due to COVID-19 in 2020. 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. We hope to see you soon!
Samantha

What’s Up? October 2021

Posted on

We’re in our favorite season, and there is so much to be excited about at Tinker Swiss Cottage this month! So, what’s up in October?

Join Us for a Tour

Join us for a tour Tuesdays through Sundays at 1pm and 3pm. We still highly recommend making a reservation for your tour as the capacity for these general history tours are capped at 15 guests. With the recent IL State Mandate, we are still requiring all staff, volunteers, and visitors to wear face masks while inside.

Donation Days are October 6th and 13th!

During the month of October, the Cottage is staged in a recreation of a Victorian funeral with mourning customs in observance of the death of Mary Dorr Manny Tinker. There will be no paranormal evidence claims discussed during our General History day-time tours. Rather, this is a great chance to learn about the history of mourning and the customs of Victorians.

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.

October 8: Paranormal Tour w/ Mike “The Ghost Gadget Guy” Kravchuk 7-10pm

We are excited to kick off our favorite season by welcoming back Mike “The Ghost Gadget Guy” Kravchuk! 
​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:$25 for Non-Members $20 for Members. Tickets are available HERE!

October 10: 4th Annual Trunk or Treat at Tinker Cottage 1-3pm

Calling all monsters, princesses, and super heroes!

Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum is excited to partner with Anderson Toyota, Rockford Heating & Air Conditioning, and Nicholson Hardware to bring you our fourth annual Trunk or Treat event!

Enjoy a FREE afternoon of trunk or treating in the historic Tinker Gardens, drive-thru style! Vehicles will enter in through our Kent Street entrance, slowly drive through the campus to gather candy at each vehicle lining the road, and finally exit out of the Winnebago Street entrance. You won’t want to miss out on this spook-tacular event! 

October 15: “Things That Go Bump in the Night” Paranormal Tour w/ Kathi Kresol & Terri Reid
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.

After the presentation, Samantha Hochmann, Executive Director of Tinker Swiss Cottage will share the history of this unique home and a paranormal tour will be included in the admission price. Tickets: $25 per person. Tickets are available HERE!

October 22: Paranormal Tour w/ the Society for Anomalous Studies 7-10pm

With spooky season in full swing, we are ecstatic that The Society of Anomalous Studies will join us for our final Paranormal Tour of October!
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:$25 for Non-Members $20 for Members. Tickets are available HERE!

October 29: Paranormal Investigation w/ Ghost Head Soup 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 staff and our friends from Ghost Head Soup in the most active locations in the Cottage. You are welcome and encouraged to bring your own equipment (cameras, camcorders, audio recorders, emf). Each event begins in the Barn.
Tickets:$50 for Non-Members $40 for Members. Tickets are available HERE!

October 30: Rockford’s Most Haunted Tour w/ Haunted Rockford 6-11pm

Tinker Swiss Cottage is honored to be a part of this special event! Guests will visit 3 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 along 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 

Tickets are $50/person. Tickets are available 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 are starting to get the gardens ready for winter! 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 2021? All 2020 memberships will be extended through 2021 due to the museum’s closure due to COVID-19 in 2020. 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. We hope to see you soon!
Samantha

What’s Up? September 2021

Posted on

Fall is in full swing at Tinker Swiss Cottage in September, and we are so excited! So, what’s up this month?

Join Us for a Tour!

Join us for a tour Tuesdays through Sundays at 1pm and 3pm. We still highly recommend making a reservation for your tour as the capacity for these general history tours are capped at 15 guests. With the recent IL State Mandate, we are still requiring all staff, volunteers, and visitors to wear face masks while inside.

Donation Days are ALL TUESDAYS in September!

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.

September 4: Summer Lecture: “So You Think You’re a Historian?” by Amanda Becker 2-4pm

Join local historian Amanda Becker in this interactive game-show-styled lecture! Becker will give prompts to the audience then discuss those historic Rockford location and moments. Tune in to see how much local history you know!

Tickets: $10 for Non-Members $5 for Members – purchased HERE!

September 10: Dead Folks Do Tell Tales w/ Haunted Rockford 7-10pm

Tinker Swiss Cottage is excited to partner with Haunted Rockford to bring you this new paranormal event! 

This is your chance to share your paranormal story and ask questions! Join psychics Sara Bowker and Tessa Lentz as they share some of their spookiest encounters and then have a Q&A session. A paranormal tour of the Cottage will follow. 

Tickets are $25/person and purchased HERE!

September 17: Tinker Visions in the Gardens 4-6pm

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

Enjoy an evening of fun accompanied by free appetizer pizza from Lino’s, with wine and beer available for purchase. There will also be live music from Jesse Fox (part of the RAMY award winning duo “The Lone Canary”) 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.

Tickets are $30/person. You can purchase your tickets by calling our office at (815) 964-2424 or via PayPal HERE!

New Exhibit Opened! “The Extended Family”

Tinker Swiss Cottage is excited to open our newest exhibit on August 31: The Extended Family!

Victorian households consisted of more than just the main nuclear family who lived in them. This exhibit will explore the lives of some of the lesser known family members who lived in the Cottage, as well as lives of some of their servants and pets.

This exhibit is included in our General History Tours available Tuesday through Sunday at 1pm & 3pm.

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 are starting back to work in the gardens! 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 2021? All 2020 memberships will be extended through 2021 due to the museum’s closure due to COVID-19 in 2020. 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. We hope to see you soon!
Samantha

New Exhibit: The Extended Family

Posted on

We are excited to announce the opening of our new exhibit on August 31: The Extended Family!

©TinkerSwissCottageMuseum

Often when thinking about family, the nuclear version comes to mind: parents, children, maybe the family pet. However, during the Victorian Era family household could encompass many other characters, such as grandparents, cousins, housekeepers, apprentices, students, and governesses. In this exhibit we explore individuals that aren’t typically discussed during our tours, but they also called the Tinker Cottage home.

The Red and Yellow Rooms have been staged as bedrooms – their primary function while the Tinkers and Dorrs lived in the Cottage.

After the first phase of construction, the Red Room was Robert Tinker’s living room; however, after the second phase of construction it was designated as the guest bedroom. In the Red Room you will see a bed set for Josephus Dorr, though the original location of his bed was where the radiator currently is placed. In the large display case you will find pictures of many family members that stayed at the Cottage, primarily from the Dorr side of the family. Near the case you will find a helpful family tree to better illustrate family connections.

The Yellow Room is staged as the servants’ bedroom. Originally, after the first phase of construction, the Yellow Room was the Master Bedroom. This room converted to servants’ quarters after the second phase of construction on the Cottage was completed.

Servants who provided domestic duties such as housekeeping and child care typically lived in the home. We know most of the Tinker servants were young Irish and Swedish immigrants, and we even know the names of a few of the women who served the house: Millie, Anne, Josephine (Josie) Johnson, and her sister Annie Johnson. 

There will be photos of the Tinker Pets on display in the Green room. The Tinker family clearly adored their furry friends, and even named one of their dogs “Bobby”.

Access to this is exhibit is included with all general history tours Tuesday through Sunday at 1pm and 3pm. For tour reservations, please email us at info@tinkercottage.com or call us at 815-964-2424.

~ Stephanie

What’s Up? August 2021

Posted on

Our fall events are starting up in August, and we are so excited! So, what’s up this month?

Join Us for a Tour!

Join us for a tour Tuesdays through Sundays at 1pm and 3pm. We still highly recommend making a reservation for your tour as the capacity for these general history tours are capped at 15 guests. With the guidelines from the Winnebago County Health Department, we are still requiring all staff, volunteers, and visitors to wear face masks.

Donation Days are August 4, 11, 18, & 25!

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.

August 14: Paranormal Tour w/ Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee 7-10pm

Join us for scintillating tales from paranormal experts the Paranormal Investigators of Milwaukee! 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: $25 for Non-Members $20 for Members – purchased HERE!

August 15: Summer Lecture “Thank You Elias Cosper” presented by Mary Rose 2-4pm

Come celebrate 815 Day by learning about all the things Elias Cosper did for Rockford from 1854-1900: Jeweler, Banker, Civil War Captain, Assistant Provost Marshall and Paymaster; Sales Agent; and strong businessman. Cosper was known as the “Father of the Library”. Learn what piece of Cosper’s past is on display at Veterans Memorial Hall and what was his connection to Robert Tinker.

Tickets: $10 for Non-Members $5 for Members – purchased HERE!

August 31: New Exhibit Opens! “The Extended Family”

Tinker Swiss Cottage is excited to open our newest exhibit on August 31: The Extended Family!

Victorian households consisted of more than just the main nuclear family who lived in them. This exhibit will explore the lives of some of the lesser known family members who lived in the Cottage, as well as lives of some of their servants and pets.

This exhibit is included in our General History Tours available Tuesday through Sunday at 1pm & 3pm.

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 are starting back to work in the gardens! 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

Join Our Membership

Have you renewed your Tinker membership for 2021? All 2020 memberships will be extended through 2021 due to the museum’s closure due to COVID-19 in 2020. 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. We hope to see you soon!
Samantha