Phillip Simmons, . . . Blacksmith

Phillip simmons, Blacksmith

[Mr. Simmons working in his blacksmith shop]

  • “I always look at nature; that will never change. Even up until the day they come with the shovel, I try to branch out and do things I haven’t seen, . . .” -Phillip Simmons; Charleston, SC Blacksmith
  • “No. The work of the blacksmith then is to shoe horses, to fire them, to shoe horse, broke wagon wheels, repair those wheels, fix the carriages, and you name ‘em, that’s what the work of the blacksmith was.” -Phillip Simmons
  • “But let me tell you why I stick to that trade. The blacksmithing didn’t walk out like some of the others. I had loved that. I learned that trade, and since I was in that shop that 70 years, I learned how to create things on my own. I look at the things God created and made them. Look at it. You see the snake get out there. That come from creation. The bird. The fish. I got the palmetto-tree gate, the pecan-tree gate, the snake gate, and all kind of gate.” -Phillip Simmons

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has identified Mr. Simmons(95 by the way) shop as one of the 11 Most Endangered Places. They need our help, and having been to his shop and all the history involved it would be a shame to see another great piece of American History fall away. Help out if you can.

Phillip Simmons gate


Want to know more about the life and works of this great man?

  • Here’s a long interview from the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
  • NEA Lifetime Honors Award page.
  • A page on the Phillip Simmons Children’s Garden in Charleston.
  • Another write-up, including a story about a coffee cup holder for a Volvo-good stuff.
  • Lots of solid info and good stuff here at the Phillip Simmons Foundation page.

Phillip Simmons Childrens Garden
[2005 image of Childrens Garden]

Strange that I could not find an up-to-date image of this memorial garden, or from the dedication. I suppose somewhere in the Charleston paper’s archives there are pictures.

That 1st quote at the top of the post . . . man I wish I had said that, that exact same way.

However, what prompted me to post this is the fact his shop is on the Endangered List, and more people need to know about it. A great civilization is nothing without it’s culture, it’s history, and a respect for those that have gone before.

I would hate to see another drugstore on another piece of Americana . . . it would not speak well of us as a people.

By Rick Anderson

The Whispering Crane Institute was originally formed to act as the umbrella organization for the Philosophy of Design Symposium, and other seminars and workshops given by Rick Anderson and Richard L. Dube’. In the year 2000 WCI became a sole proprietorship owned by Rick Anderson. Today the WCI provides design and consultation services for Landscape Contractors, acts as a Green Industry think tank, and provides training for others in the form of workshops, seminars, and individual consulting. The WCI also provides written material, opinions, case-studies and how-to articles for industry trade magazines.


  1. I respect the skills of every artist and craftsman. But I especially respect blacksmithing — especially after spending a day with one local one and a couple other buddies. Our wives bought us a day with him for our birthdays. I had grand plans going in. But after learning a few basic techniques best I was able to do was some pretty rustic looking S-hooks to hang planters from. When I look at hand-crafted gates and railings and the like, I am in awe.

    Well S-hooks are better than nothing. A good Blacksmith is truly quite the craftsmen. I’ve been fortunate to work with a few of these guys-it was great and i look forward to any work relationship with a good craftsmen.

  2. His home/shop is something, and he is pretty amazing himself – but to drive around Charleston – on a walking or driving tour of his work – it’s just incredible to see it all in place. He’s had such an influence on Charleston and her gardens! Thanks for this post.

    No problem, guys like Mr. Simmons need all the notice they can get, and deserve. It would be terrible to lose this place, just terrible.

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