(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved. Contact us for information about using this image.
Cornelius Kelley (1873-1954) was a Deerfield, Massachusetts farmer and blacksmith who became nationally known through his decorative wrought-iron work. Beginning around 1900, he gradually shifted his work away from the mundane blacksmithing he had been trained in to contributing delicately beautiful items to the annual Deerfield Arts and Crafts fairs. By 1915, he was well known enough to be offered a position teaching metallurgy at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, a position he held for only two years before returning to Deerfield. By the early 1920s his business had shifted entirely to artistic ironwork. Another major factor was the nearly complete disappearance of traditional blacksmith work in an era marked by rapid modernization. By 1942, now aged 68, he retired from active blacksmithing. Kelley's influence cannot readily be traced. But he was an important participant in one aspect of Deerfield's Arts and Crafts movement, a movement that heavily influenced American design in the first half of the 20th century.