ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — One of northern Illinois’ best kept secrets is Tinker Swiss Cottage, located in Rockford.

The cottage, built by a man named Robert Tinker, is a destination for history buffs and those interested in experiencing life as it was in the Victorian era.

Tinker helped run an oatmeal company, a steel company, a railroad company, and even served a term as mayor.

Tinker built his cottage – and we use the term loosely: it’s actually a 22-room mansion! – as a winter getaway for he and his wife, who also had a mansion just upstream on Kent Creek.

The chalet was molded on Swiss architecture the Tinkers saw while traveling to Europe in 1862.

Many visitors claim the Tinker Swiss Cottage is haunted, and it has attracted ghost hunters over the years. Many of the artifacts that decorate its nearly two-dozen rooms are over 100 years old.

Tinker Swiss Cottage opened to the public as a museum in 1943.

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