For 75 years, the Tinker family lived in the Swiss Cottage. It's filled with original furnishings and household items. Tinker Education Coordinator Alix Fox says, "Everything from rugs to artwork to down to the littlest fork all belonged and were used by the Tinkers."
Robert built a suspension bridge across KentCreek linking the Cottage with his wife Mary Dorr Manny Tinker's mansion. In 1906, the railroad bought the remainder of Mary's estate and Robert planted elaborate gardens where passengers could visit as they waited for the train. Today work is being done to replicate the original grounds of what's truly a unique estate. Fox says, "It's one of the very few complete Victorian time capsules that we have not only in Rockford but in the United States and it's also one of the very few standing Swiss style homes left in the United States." The Tinker family left their home to the Rockford Park District and their household belongings to trustees. Tinker Swiss Cottage opened as a museum in 1943.