Edward Wilson Cooper, the paymaster of Tredegar Iron Works, commissioned this bench from the Richmond foundry following the death of young John Butler Cooper. The bench was a gift for his grieving wife so that she would have somewhere to sit when visiting their son’s grave. The bench remained in their family plot at Riverview Cemetery until their daughter Kathleen Cooper Hill donated the piece to the Valentine Museum to ensure its preservation.
The bench was cast by the ironworkers at Tredegar in late 1909 or early 1910 and is representative of the type of ornamental ironwork produced and exported from the city by ship and by rail. Opened in 1837, Tredegar was ranked the third largest iron manufacturer in the United States by the outbreak of the American Civil War. The company continued to prosper through the mid-20th century, which is attested to by the prevalence of decorative architectural ironwork through out the city.