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Philip Simmons

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Information about Philip Simmons

Profile image of Philip Simmons

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Blacksmith

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Okra Soup, Turnips
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Georgia
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
6/9/1912
Birth Location:
Daniel\'s Island, South Carolina

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
Occupation(s):
Blacksmith

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Okra Soup, Turnips
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Georgia
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
6/9/1912
Birth Location:
Daniel\'s Island
See how Philip Simmons is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Blacksmith Philip Simmons was born on June 9, 1912 to Rosa Simmons on Daniel Island, South Carolina. He was raised by his grandparents until he was eight years old. He then went to live with his mother in Charleston, South Carolina. He completed the sixth grade at Buist Elementary School in Charleston. When he was thirteen years old, Simmons became the apprentice of the local blacksmith, Peter Simmons (no relation). After which, he worked for almost eighty years as a blacksmith.

Simmons’ first duties were to clean floors, make and maintain the fire and hold the horses. He moved on to other work, much of which involved shoeing horses and repairing carriage wheels. Although cars replaced horses as modes of transportation, Simmons mastered other tools, allowing him to create trailers for cars. In addition, he learned how to repair ironwork for houses and he became skilled at ornamental ironwork. Sometimes, Simmons would be commissioned to do specific work, but most of the time, the image was his own design. He has fashioned over 500 decorative pieces of ornamental wrought iron throughout Charleston, South Carolina. Simmons fashioned a gate for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.

In 1982, Simmons created his favorite work, "The Star and Fish Gate." It won the National Heritage Award and the National Endowment of the Arts Award, and it was purchased by the Smithsonian. Simmons has also received the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.

The vestry and congregation of St. John’s Episcopal Church dedicated the grounds of the church to develop a commemorative landscaped garden as a tribute to his exceptional mastery of wrought iron. In 2006, South Carolina State University awarded him an honorary Ph.D. in F.A. degree.

Philip Simmons passed away on June 22, 2009.

Philip Simmons was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 1, 2007.

See how Philip Simmons is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Philip Simmons' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Philip Simmons lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Philip Simmons describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Philip Simmons describes his early education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Philip Simmons describes his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Phil Simmons describes his mother's visits to Daniel Island, South Carolina
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Philip Simmons describes what he knows about his father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Phil Simmons remembers the Buist School in Charleston, South Carolina
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Philip Simmons describes his grade school education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Philip Simmons remembers his introduction to art
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Philip Simmons describes his blacksmith training
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Philip Simmons remembers his early work experiences
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Phil Simmons describes his duties at the blacksmith shop
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Philip Simmons describes his early artistic work as a blacksmith
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Philip Simmons describes his mentor, blacksmith Peter Simmons
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Philip Simmons remembers the impact of motorized transportation
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Philip Simmons remembers building automobile trailers
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Philip Simmons describes his blacksmithing tools
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Philip Simmons describes his transition to decorative wrought ironwork
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Philip Simmons describes his first client and his artistic process
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Philip Simmons describes his wife and family
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Philip Simmons describes the history of his blacksmith shop in Charleston, South Carolina
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Philip Simmons remembers the death of his wife
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Philip Simmons remembers his children's adoption by his family members
  • Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Philip Simmons describes his ironwork for the City of Charleston, South Carolina
  • Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Philip Simmons remembers his introduction to blacksmithing machinery
  • Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Philip Simmons describes his neighborhoods in Charleston, South Carolina
  • Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Philip Simmons describes how he began working on wrought iron gates
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Philip Simmons talks about repairing wrought irons gates in Charleston, South Carolina
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Philip Simmons talks about his artistic materials and process
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Philip Simmons describes his relationships with customers
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Philip Simmons describes the content of his lectures
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Philip Simmons describes his organizational involvement
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Philip Simmons talks about the Philip Simmons Garden in Charleston, South Carolina
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Philip Simmons describes his ironwork tours in Charleston, South Carolina
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Philip Simmons describes his artwork for the 1996 Summer Olympics
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Philip Simmons describes artwork for the Smithsonian Institution
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Philip Simmons talks about the changes he witnessed in Charleston, South Carolina
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Philip Simmons talks about segregation
  • Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Philip Simmons talk about why he was not drafted to the U.S. military
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Philip Simmons remembers the March on Washington
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Philip Simmons talks about Marcus Garvey and the Black Star Line
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Philip Simmons reflects upon the March on Washington
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Philip Simmons describes his message to future generations, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Philip Simmons describes his message to future generations, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Philip Simmons describes how he would like to be remembered, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Philip Simmons describes how he would like to be remembered, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Philip Simmons narrates his photographs