In the spirit of Halloween which is just about a week away, the SyFy Channel will air tonight, Wednesday, October 24, a special Ghost Hunters  episode called Fear Factory.

The filming location of the Fear Factory episode is the historic Tinker Swiss Cottage (now also a museum & gardens open to the public) in Rockford, Illinois.

Fear Factory takes us through a paranormal investigation led by Jason Hawes, Steve Gonsalves, Dave Tango, Amy Bruni, Britt Griffith and Adam Berry. To celebrate the show’s premiere, the staff at Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum & Gardens is hosting a free public viewing of the Ghost Huntersepisode on October 24 at the Veteran’s Memorial Hall, located on 211 North Main Street.

At the screening, there will be two guest speakers - John Borowski, a Chicago filmmaker, and Jeff Mudgett, author and great-great grandson of Herman Mudgett or otherwise known as Dr. H. H. Holmes, the serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor in The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson. Mudgett’s main topic will be on the new evidence he has recently discovered about his infamous ancestor.



The Tinker Swiss Cottage, built between 1865 and 1870, was the residence of Robert Hall Tinker, mayor of Rockford in 1875.

Tinker moved to Rockford in 1856 and worked as an accountant for Mary Dorr-Manny, the wealthy widow of John H. Manny of the Manny Reaper Works. Inspired by his many travels to Europe in 1862 and his love for the architecture of Switzerland, Tinker designed a 27-room Swiss-style chalet (a mansion actually) on a bluff overlooking Rockford’s Kent Creek.

Image of Tinker Swiss Cottage via  Google .

Image of Tinker Swiss Cottage via Google.

While working at the Manny Reaper Company, Tinker fell in love with and later married his employer Mary Dorr-Manny. Together, they were one of Rockford’s most influential couples. Tinker became mayor of Rockford in 1875, was a founding member of the Rockford Park District and the CEO of the Northwest and I C Rail lines.

PHOTO CREDITS:  The above photos are from the museum’s blog: (1) Robert Hall Tinker’s photo is from  here  and (2) Mary Manny-Tinker’s photo is from  here .

PHOTO CREDITS: The above photos are from the museum’s blog: (1) Robert Hall Tinker’s photo is from here and (2) Mary Manny-Tinker’s photo is from here.

Tinker lost his left foot because of a train accident in 1900. He recorded the tragic accident in hisjournal simply as “Saturday, March 3, 1900 - Fell under freight-car near water tank Ill. Cr Ry bet 11 + 12 o’ck + had left foot crushd. Hurried to hospital. Foot taken above ankle by Dr. Fitch - I was put in Room 16. Miss Dodge, special nurse.”

A little over a year after he lost his leg, his wife died in their own home at the age of 72. Again, Tinker wrote in his journal another simple entry: “Wednesday, September 4, 1901 - Wife died at 3 am - had been almost unconscious + without pain for 2 days - Mrs. Emerson + Mr. Church prepared obituary notice for R-Gazette.”

His next journal entry, however, can easily send chills down one’s back: “Thursday, September 5, 1901 - Spent the night alone with the casket in sitting room - took my signet ring from cold hand.”

They say bad luck comes in three. After Mary’s death, Tinker’s sister-in-law Hannah also became ill and eventually died later that same year.

Tinker eventually married again. His second wife was Jessie Dorr (his first wife’s niece). They adopted a son (Theodore) together and continued staying in “Tinker’s Cottage” until Tinker’s death in 1924. After 75 years of as sole residents in the cottage, the Tinker family left their home and household belongings to the trustees of the estate. The house currently still has its original furnishings, artwork, diaries and many household items. Tinker Swiss Cottage is a rare time capsule of life over a century ago.

PHOTO CREDIT:  The above image of Tinker Swiss Cottage is from  here .

PHOTO CREDIT: The above image of Tinker Swiss Cottage is from here.

Adding to its mystique, the Cottage’s land houses a Native American burial mound, the original pioneer site of Rockford from 1834. There was even a graveyard on the north side of the property (1844-1852) which were later moved to a different location.

Rumors have it that there had been many tragedies, illnesses and deaths at the Cottage while the Tinkers were living there. His his wife Mary and several relatives had all lived and died in the house.


Tinker Swiss Cottage - Today

Presently, Tinker’s Cottage is a museum and monument to Rockford’s history. With rumors of ghost and spirit sightings surrounding the property, Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum now hostsparanormal tours and murder mysteries regularly. Due to its high paranormal activities, there have been many paranormal investigations held at Tinker Swiss Cottage, one of the most recent was by SyFy’s Ghost Hunters team. 

If you’re curious and want to see for yourself whether the Tinker Swiss Cottage is indeed haunted, don’t forget to tune in to the SyFy channel tonight at 8pm (Central time). Better yet, if you happen to be in Rockford, Illinois this evening, you can join the Tinker staff at the Veteran’s Memorial Hall to watch the screening of Fear Factory in person. Oh, and yes ... Tinker Swiss Cottage has its ownFacebook page too!



Illinois is also the filming location for many other major featured films, include Contagion andTransformers: Dark of the Moon, two of the blockbusters released last year.


Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon, partially filmed in Illinois in 2010, had a strong economic impact on the state’s economy. The movie generated approximately $24 million in spending in the state and provided 400 jobs during production, in addition to extras that were hired as part of the film. 

Image via  Google .

Image via Google.

“The impact of Transformers 3 extends far beyond its 30 days of production in Illinois by providing millions of dollars in economic activity in the state, creating additional employment for Illinois crew, and, once-again, putting Illinois on the map,” said Warren Ribley, director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), where the state film office is housed. “As we continue our economic recovery, the film industry will continue to be an important part of our efforts to create jobs and spur economic growth.”

Transformers 3 filmed during 30 days in many areas of Illinois in 2010, including the Financial DistrictTribune Tower and parts of Michigan Ave, LaSalle Street and Wacker Drive in downtown Chicago.

Shot mostly in 3-D, Transformer 3 was directed by Michael Bay and produced by Paramount Pictures, with Steven Spielberg serving as executive producer. The film stars Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Tyrese Gibson, Patrick Dempsey, John Malkovich, Josh Duhamel, among others.



Also filmed in Illinois in 2010 was Contagion. The movie brought in approximately $12.5 million in spending in the state and generated roughly 250 jobs during production, as well as jobs for extras. 

Poster image via  Google .

Poster image via Google.

“Contagion played an important role in 2010 becoming a banner year for the Illinois film industry,” said IFO Deputy Director Betsy Steinberg. “The increase in television, commercial and independent film production also helped boost the state’s economy. We are making great progress in marketing Illinois as a world-class film location.”

The increase in television, commercial and independent film production also helped boost the state’s economy. We are making great progress in marketing Illinois as a world-class film location.
— Betsy Steinberg, Deputy Director of the Illinois Film Office.

Filmed in late summer and fall of 2010, Contagion’s filming locations include Chicago, Naperville,Forest City Science & Technology Park in Skokie, and Amstutz Expressway in Waukegan. Central Elementary School and Wm. H. Scott Funeral Home both in Wilmette, Sherman Hospital in Elgin, downtown Western Springs, the 142-year-old Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago, and Chicago’s Midway Airport are a few other locations featured in the movie. 

PHOTO CREDIT:  The above photo of the Palmer House Hotel - where Contagion was filmed - is from  here .

PHOTO CREDIT: The above photo of the Palmer House Hotel - where Contagion was filmed - is from here.

Contagion, directed by Steven Soderbergh, stars Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, and Marion Cotillard. Director Soderbergh and Matt Damon also worked together in another made-in-Illinois film, The Informant, which was shot in Decatur in 2008.

Illinois’ film industry saw a record $161 million in spending in 2010, which topped the $155 million in spending in 2007 and represents a 54 percent increase from 2009.



The Illinois Film Office administers the Illinois’ Film Tax Credit, which has been instrumental in spurring growth of Illinois’ film industry. Illinois offers a 30 percent tax credit to filmmakers for money spent on Illinois goods and services, including wages paid to Illinois residents. Since its inception, the Film Tax Credit has helped bring over half a billion dollars in economic activity to the state and over 10,000 full time equivalent jobs.

For more information on filming in Illinois, visit their Illinois Film Office’s website.