Philip Simmons

Photo: Courtesy of   Jack Alterman

Photo: Courtesy of Jack Alterman


Philip Simmons (1912-2009) was a legendary artisan blacksmith in Charleston.  His work is owned by two of the museums of the Smithsonian Institution. In 1982, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Mr. Simmons the National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honor bestowed upon an artist.

The Ansonborough neighborhood has a rich collection of Mr. Simmons’s work. Diagonally across the street from Theodora Park, he designed the walkway gate and fence for St. John’s Reformed Episcopal Church. He also designed a ‘double heart’ driveway gate for the Heart Garden on Menotti Street.

You heat and beat, heat and beat, heat and beat. That’s the name of the game. The more you look down, the more you see.

 I’ve never made anything I didn’t like. I take a long time on the drawing, and when the customer likes it, I already like it first. I’m lucky his choice is mine too.

I glad you got something uptown. People think that all my work is in the lower Battery. But I done a lot of work for poor peoples like myself. They enjoys it too.

Philip Simmons


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Philip Simmons – from Charleston Blacksmith: The Work of Philip Simmons by John Michael Vlach