People

Cornelius Kelley

1874-1954

 Cornelius Kelley

© Memorial Hall Museum, Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association

Postcard of Cornelius Kelley, (detail) by an unknown photographer, c. 1915.

Deerfield, Massachusetts blacksmith Cornelius Kelley participated from the first to the and final years of the Deerfield Arts and Crafts movement. Born in Ireland, Kelley was one of only a handful of the movement's artisans who did not have ancestral ties to Deerfield. He immigrated to the United States in 1889, learned the trade of blacksmithing in Greenfield, Massachusetts, before moving to neighboring Deerfield in 1899.

Already by the summer of 1900 Kelley's hand-crafted hinges were appearing on a desk bench by Margaret Whiting and a wooden box built by artisan Madeline Yale Wynne, the soon-to-be first president of the Deerfield Society of Arts and Crafts. Madeline also collaborated with the blacksmith on a candelabra. Wynne designed the piece, and Kelley executed it. Cornelius became one of seven directors of the new organization in 1901. Soon the village blacksmith was working with furniture makers Dr. Edwin Thorn and Caleb Allen, and, according to a Deerfield Arts and Crafts Society brochure, creating "wrought-iron...hall lanterns, artistic hinges and candelabra made from colonial designs."1 Between 1906 and the early 1920s, Kelley stopped exhibiting with Deerfield Arts and Crafts artisans. Briefly, between 1916 and 1918 he taught as an assistant instructor in the Forge Shop of the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (now Carnegie-Mellon University). Cornelius Kelley once again began advertising "Hand-Wrought Iron Work" in the 1922 Announcement of the Society of Deerfield Industries. The blacksmith served as the Society's vice president in 1931 and its president from 1933 to 1934. He advertised through its brochure as late as 1941.

  1. "The Crafts of Deerfield" a publication of the Deerfield Society of Arts and Crafts, between 1901 and 1906, PVMA Library.