Arbuckle Gallery at the Pacific Hotel

Breaking the Mold: San Jose’s Oldest Foundry

Photographs by Philip Krayna

September 27, 2018 – July 21, 2019


12 to 5 pm

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.

This past year, Kearney announced its closure. 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

About Clyde Arbuckle

Clyde Arbuckle was instrumental in preserving San José’s history by collecting historic materials, and founding the San José Historical Museum, which later became History San José. Find out more about Arbuckle’s contributions to local history and his legacy at History San José.

About the Pacific Hotel

The Pacific Hotel was originally located at 74-80 South Market Street in downtown San José, near the Plaza de César Chavez. The first hotel at this location was founded in 1860, but the Pacific Hotel itself was not opened until 1880. Charles Schiele, a Prussian immigrant and former waiter, purchased the property, then known as Otter’s Hotel, and was the first owner of the Pacific Hotel. Schiele remained in charge for seven years, until he sold the hotel to Julius Neifing and Jacob Schlenker and was elected to the San José City Council. Schlenker owned the hotel with different business partners until 1903, when he sold it to George Pfeffer. The Pacific Hotel remained in business until July 1907, when the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company bought the building. Read more.