Among the most charming details in historic #Charleston are its wonderful wrought iron gates. There are gates dating as early as the 1720’s done in the fashion of working iron by hammer and anvil into delicately decorative shapes. Wrought is a metal that is made up of iron, iron silicates and carbon. The carbon content of wrought iron is much lower than in other forms of iron and steel and the silicates are higher, which allows for a combination of elasticity and strength. All wrought iron in Charleston was imported, and the most sought-after form in the 19th century ws Swedish bar iron, forged in Swedish mills with a process that gave the iron considerable durability. Wrought iron was so strong, in fact, that during the Civil War, cannon barrels made of cast iron were strengthened by heating wrought iron rings that were placed over the cannon barrel and cooled to seal a powerful layer to keep the cannon from bursting during firing. <img.src=”Charleston History” alt=”Wrought Iron”
Johann August Wilhelm Iusti was a German-born immigrant to #Charleston in the 1830’s. He went by his second name, August, which is literally translated as “venerable”, appropriate considering one of his works is still among the most admired sights in the historic city. Iusti’s wrought iron gates at St. Michael’s Church are incredibly well-detailed and made exquisitely in slender fashion that shows the artistic touch that he obviously had with hammer on anvil. Done around 1840, the gates still bear Iusti’s name in the iron overthrow. But sadly, there are no records of other gates that he did, living in Charleston until 1895. Perhaps the answer lies in an invention he was credited with by the U.S. Patent office for a mechanical rain conductor, which in that day were made out of decorative iron. Many of these still exist on historic houses today, and maybe they are part of Iusti’s legacy.
One of the best reasons to walk historic #Charleston is that many of the city’s most scenic treasures might be completely missed when driving by. There are numerous charming gardens visible through picturesque wrought iron gates along streets not commonly traveled such as Gibbes Street, Lamboll Street, Hasell Street and lower Church Street. This particular scene on lower Church is facing in the same direction as the one-way thoroughfare is driven, so it would be almost impossible to see while driving, yet is a breath-taking pause on a leisurely stroll through the old city. There are also wonderful alleys, historic graveyards, and several scenic greens and parks in the older part of Charleston that are meant to be observed on foot. And what makes the city even more appealing to those who walk it is the fact that the historic areas are contiguous an blend into each other from Ashley to Cooper river on each side, and from White Point Garden to the upper peninsula. The city is safe, clean, and fairly compact, with the historic district comprising about four square miles. <img.src=”Charleston Sightseeing” alt=”Hidden Historic Gems”
A very common detail in classic architecture throughout historic #Charleston is the anthemion. This is symbol represents the Greek palmette, whose natural symmetry impressed ancient architects enough to be depicted in stone, iron and wood as an example of beauty and welcome. With the great influence of Greek and Roman styles in Charleston’s historic architecture, the anthemion became a fashionable addition to gates, furnishings and facades throughout the city. Although most commonly framed by wood, iron or stone, some versions are free-standing, a detail called the acroterion. Some versions are more detailed and embroidered than others, and this version pictured from a gate on Hasell Street, is a grander example than the simpler shapes at places such as the gates of St. Philip’s Church. Look around at details both interior and exterior in Charleston’s classic structures, and the anthemion is sure to be there. <img.src=”Charleston Architecture” alt=”Anthemion Symbol ”
Learning the iron trade as a teenaged apprentice in a blacksmith’s shop around the turn of the century, Philip Simmons became a household name in #Charleston during a career that spanned nearly a century. Mr. Simmons started out hammering wagon wheels and other working iron parts, but quickly fell in love with the historic wrought iron craftsmanship he saw in the streets of Charleston. Fashioning his first decorative gate in the 1930’s, Mr. Simmons showed a keen understanding of the possibilities of shaping iron, and became one of the most sought-after artisans in Charleston history. This gate pictured is the essence of Philip Simmons – a delicate beauty that incorporated both the nature scenes he liked to depict with the image of the heron, as well as personalizing it by adding a crucifix for the owner of the house, an ordained minister. <img.src=”Charleston Ironwork” alt=”Philip Simmons Gate”