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“S is for Simmons, Philip

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  “S is for Simmons, Philip [1912-2009]. Blacksmith. Born on Daniel Island, Simmons was apprenticed to Peter Simmons, an elderly wheelwright. From Peter, the thirteen-year-old Philip was exposed to so many branches of ironworking that he referred to himself as “a general blacksmith.” He could shoe horses, repair wagons, fashion iron fittings for boats, make and mend tools, and fabricate iron structures. Shifting from pragmatic smithing to artistry, he soon established himself as one of Charleston’s premiere artists. Between 1938 and 1990 he produced more than two hundred commissions—including gates, balconies, fences, and railings. Among his most noted works are the gates for the Christopher Gadsden House on East Bay Street, which feature a pair of threatening rattlesnakes. In1982, Philip Simmons was among the first group of American folk artists honored as a National Heritage Fellow.

Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar receivedhisA.B.degreefromDavidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.