Monday, March 23, 2015

"In memory of a master"

Philip Simmons, 1912-2009, was a master blacksmith whose reputation as a Charleston "smithy" was legendary. Legend has it that one didn't visit Mr. Simmons to tell him what you wanted. Instead, you invited Mr. Simmons to look at your house and tell you what he saw for the ironwork surrounding your property.

If you liked Mr. Simmons' idea, you hired him to create a fence and/or gate(s). If you did not like his idea, you were free to visit another blacksmith.

The basement entrance of Drayton Hall is
guarded by a gate with a harp (Lyre) design.
Although it is known that Simmons did
iron work at Drayton Hall, there is no record
if this is a Simmon's gate. 

The Drayton Hall Diaries share only a tiny part of the story about Philip Simmons.  A foundation in his name has titled their website "The Gate Keeper" largely because of the many gates he created for Charleston residents.

My favorite is more simple than many of his gates. While known for his heart and harp designs, the harps are my favorites. The gate at 65 Alexander Street in Charleston is simple enough in my opinion to not distract from the home behind the gate, yet it frames the view with a classic outline of a simple lyre.

Now I keep my fingers crossed, hoping the fence company who will create our fence and gates will be willing and able to use Mr. Simmons' ideas as inspiration and/or as a pattern to build our gates. It would be the icing on the cake to have a historically inspired gate to finish the exterior of our home.

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