Famous Forging

On my walking tours of historic #Charleston, I typically take the group of visitors down Stoll’s Alley in the famous South of Broad district. One of the gates there was done by the Charleston’s most heralded 20th century ironsmith, Philip Simmons. I got to know Mr. Simmons in his later years, when he was still pounding hammer on anvil into his eighties. He got his start as a 13-year old apprentice in a blacksmith shop back in 1925, learning to forge iron axles and wheels for wagons and carts. He quickly found a fascination with the decorative ironwork found in old structures around the city that had been done in previous centuries by ironworkers such as Jacob Roh, Johann Iusti and Christopher Werner. Mr. Simmons decided at age 20 to start his own decorative ironwork enterprise and got his first commissioned job to do a gate on Stoll’s Alley in 1932. The gate pictured below is what he called his “billboard gate”, as he would ask potential customers to look at it and decide if they wanted to hire him. Decades of iron details and hundreds of gates later, the billboard gate was a testimonial to the talent and skill of Philip Simmons from the very first stroke he made on decorative iron. <img.src=”Charleston Gates” alt=”Philip Simmons Billboard Gate”

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