Exhibit to feature early Rockford landscaper

Exhibit to feature early Rockford landscaper


A rock work fountain at Tinker Swiss Cottage draws appreciative remarks almost daily. The fountain was built by John Blair, a talented Scottish landscape architect whose garden designs changed the face of Rockford. Blair spent a decade in Rockford from 1854 to 1865. He laid out gardens for Robert Tinker, Mary Manny, G.A. Sanford and other prominent Rockford citizens using a natural approach that focused on trees, water features and stonework.

From now until May 31, Tinker Swiss Cottage will be highlighting Blair’s talents and contributions in an exhibit called “John Blair: Rockford’s First Landscape Architect.” The exhibit will be in Rockford courtesy of Blair biographer Bill Dale, who has spent 20 years researching Blair’s life. Dale, who lives near Victoria, British Columbia (another community touched by Blair’s talents), will be in Rockford April 6. At 2 p.m. he will offer a slide presentation and introduction to the exhibit at the Tinker Barn and Visitor Center, 411 Kent Street. The presentation is free of charge and open to the public.

After living in Rockford, John Blair settled in Oak Park and served as Chicago’s Superintendent of Parks and was instrumental in the design of Garfield, Humboldt and Douglas parks, as well as in the design of the Elgin Mental Health Center grounds. In the 1870s, he moved to Colorado Springs, Colo., and in 1881 relocated to Victoria, B.C., where he lived the rest of his life. When he sold his Oak Park home in 1889, it was to a young Frank Lloyd Wright. Blair died in 1906 at age 86.

The exhibit will will remain on display until May 31 and is open during regular museum hours, Tuesday-Sunday from 1 – 4 p.m. Admission is charged to tour the historic Tinker Swiss Cottage; there is no additional fee for the exhibit. Information: 964-2424.

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