Breaking the Mold: San Jose’s Oldest Foundry
Photographs by Philip Krayna
On view in the Wing Gallery at City Hall, beginning September 16th, 2019
Featuring portraits and stories of the workers at Kearney Pattern Works & Foundry — the oldest metal foundry in San Jose — this exhibit documents the changing face of manufacturing and heavy industry in Silicon Valley’s rapidly-changing South Bay.
Foundry casting — pouring molten metal into sand cavities formed by hand-crafted wooden patterns — has been a manufacturing process for thousands of years, supplying us with household items to automobile parts. Kearney Pattern Works & Foundry has been in downtown San Jose since 1918. The Montgomery Street the firm’s first customers included canning equipment manufacturers such as the John Bean Sprayer and Anderson-Barngrover companies. During World War II, Kearney expanded into the defense industry, later growing to support electronics and bio-medical device customers.
Kearney closed in 2018. Photographer Philip Krayna captured the last months of this labor-intensive operations, documenting workers on the floor in the furnace heat, the sweat and the sand.
Photo credits: Philip Krayna