Steve Litteral is a native of Rockford, Illinois and he is currently the Executive Director of Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum. He spent two enlistments in the US Army as an airborne infantryman (paratrooper) until he started his academic career in 2000. Currently, Steve has earned an A.A., B.A. in history, and an M.A. in military history. Tinker Swiss Cottage was recently featured in an episode of the SyFy Channel show Ghost Hunters.
When (and why) did you first contact TAPS about coming to Tinker Swiss Cottage and what was their initial response?
I had called TAPS many years ago to get some advice, but I never thought we would be on their television program. Thanks to Michael Kravchuk (The Ghost Gadget Guy) who knew they were in the Chicago area, and he told them they should check out the museum while they were in the area. I soon received a call from the producer of ‘Ghost Hunters’ who asked if TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) could film an episode at the museum, and of course, I said, “yes.”
Tell our readers a little about what Tinker Cottage is and why it is a Rockford landmark.
The museum, which is actually a Victorian mansion, was built in 1865 by a gentleman named Robert H. Tinker. Robert was a former mayor of Rockford and he was also one of the founders of the Rockford Park District. The museum also contains all of the Tinker’s original artwork, furniture, journals, and books. It is not only important to local history, but Victorian American history as well since it is a time capsule to contemporary visitors. When you walk through the mansion, it looks like they just left for the afternoon. We also have a Native American burial mound near the mansion and the first buildings in Rockford were built on the site in 1834.
Have you or other staff members experienced anything unusual while working at the museum? What are some of the most “active” areas?