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"THE GATE KEEPERS" the Philip Simmons Foundation Inc.

 The Documentation Project


How can you help?


Non-earmarked donations will be used for a variety of expenses and projects within the overall documentation.

For those donating please note “Doc. Project” on your check. There will be a series of fund-raisers for the project. The first was held at Alterman Studios on November 28, 2006. If you are interested in helping out with future benefits please contact Rossie Colter (rossie@philipsimmons.org).




Apprentice: $25 - $250

Smith: $251 - $500

Patron: $501 - $2,500

Master Craftsperson: $2,501 - $10,000

Saint: $10,001 – up











PUBLISHED BY (2) $50,000 each

Associated Publishers $10,000




Overview of Project


Database: Identifying and certifying works of Mr. Simmons


DVD to include:

- Documentary

- The Building of a Gate

- Neighborhood Works


Book: A comprehensive study of Mr. Simmons works captured in photography.


Walking Tours: Three (3) Walking tours of Mr. Simmons exciting and cherished works in Charleston


Lesson Plans: Update of the existing plans that include a video/DVD.

 Philip Simmons is one of the world’s most renowned Master Blacksmiths. To date, there has not been a project that combines multi-media to categorize and archive over 600 pieces of existing ironworks that Mr. Simmons designed, fabricated, or repaired.


John Michael Vlach wrote the book, Charleston Blacksmith: The Work of Philip Simmons in 1981 which documented his major works up to that date. This book is in its fourth printing and is one of the best sellers for the University of South Carolina Press (publisher).


In 1995, the Simmons Foundation partnered with the Historic Charleston Foundation to identify the works of Mr. Simmons. With a grant from the South Carolina Humanities Foundation, the initial data was collected over a three year period.


In the interim, homes were renovated; ironworks by Philip Simmons were beginning to disappear from the sites that were documented originally. Some pieces were donated to the School of the Building Arts (now, American College of the Building arts). As houses were sold some owners took the piece(s) to their new home.


Magazines and national television shows were requesting information about Mr. Simmons more and more which led to the discovery of the site changes. With this alarm, it was evident that the documentation that was previously done would need a site check.


A fellow collaborator and friend of Mr. Simmons, Mary Edna Fraser who is also a local artist, introduced Sunhead Projects to the project administrator of the Simmons Foundation to do a documentary. As a result of that meeting, the Foundation and Sunhead Projects joined efforts to produce the most comprehensive archives of Simmons to date.


On April 21, 2007, Avery Research Center at the College of Charleston set up a “Simmons Room” in their building to continue to input the database, display some of Mr. Simmons’ drawings, photographs of his works, his first anvil, some ironworks, and the most recent gift to the Foundation, a bust of Mr. Simmons, carved in mahogany by Mark Woodward. Avery will house the archives.

The Documentation Project encompasses video, print and on-the-ground, self guided tours. Ultimately the endeavor will involve students, photographers, videographers, historians and many other interested citizens of Charleston.


We thank you for your interest,

consideration and donations.




When Philip Simmons was 88 years old, he sat for a studio portrait by Charleston photographer, Jack Alterman. As part of the fundraising efforts for the documentation project, Alterman is providing a limited edition of 88 framed prints that are signed by Mr. Simmons and the photographer. The prints will be on display at Alterman Studios where they are available for purchase at $1,000 each. Portraits can be purchased through the Simmons Foundation – Philip Simmons Foundation, Inc. P.O. Box 21585, Charleston, SC 29413 – (843) 571-6445 - FAX (843) 571-6435 - info@philipsimmons.org.


For more on the Documentation Project

Visit Sunhead Projects

 The Philip Simmons Foundation, Inc., a non-profit tax-exempt organization was established in 1991 by the Vestry of St. John’s Reformed Episcopal Church to develop and maintain a commemorative landscaped garden on the grounds of the church. The Foundation added to its charge to preserve the legacy of Mr. Simmons who is also a member of the church.


Philip Simmons was born on Daniel Island in 1912. He came to Charleston at age eight for a better education and discovered iron. He developed a passion for the iron work and spent over 77 years practicing his art. National recognition for his artistry didn’t come until 1976, when he was invited by the Smithsonian Institute to participate in the National Heritage Festival on the Mall of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.


Pieces of his work have also been acquired by: the Atlanta History Center, Atlanta, GA, the Daniel Island Company, Daniel Island, SC and the General Services Administration of the Federal Government for the entrance gates to the Matthew J. Perry Federal Courthouse in Columbia, SC.

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