United States of America -- South Carolina -- Charleston County -- Charleston
Scope and Contents:
The folder includes a work sheet, a plant list, garden plans, copies of photographs, newspaper articles, copied material from books, and narrative descriptions of the property and its development.
The garden is located in the heart of Charleston's first suburb, Ansonborough. The present house was completed circa 1846, and reflects the Greek Revival architecture popular among Charleston's merchant class at that time. In 1969, the house was renovated; and the owner commissioned well-known Charleston landscape architect, Loutrel Briggs, to design the garden. Changes in the garden after 1992 included deepening the flower beds, the creation of a square lawn, and the addition of two square pools. In order to reduce the impact of the large driveway, double-paired parterre beds were created. The emphasis on an axial focus was achieved by large planters in line with the entrance from the loggia and the path connecting the front and rear gardens. The present owners use their garden as an extension of their house. The large plant inventory reflects the owners' interest in southern shrubs, which provide year-round color and texture.
Persons associated with the garden include: Elizabeth Kohne (former owner, 1846); Charles Leslie (former owner, 1904); Mrs. Amalia Walker (former owner, 1962); Rodney and Barbara Williams (former owners 1969-1992); Loutrel W. Briggs (landscape architect, 1969); Richard Hartledge (garden designer, 1992); Shelia Werlimer (landscape architect, 1996); Beverly Rivers (garden designer, 1992-present); Philip Simmons (iron worker, 1960s); and Rich Avert (iron worker, 1992).
McGee Garden related holdings consist of 1 folder (11 35 mm. slides)
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An interview of Philip Simmons conducted 2001 April 4-5, by Mary Douglas, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, in Simmons' home and workshop, Charleston, South Carolina.
Simmons speaks of his childhood and early education; jobs shining shoes and delivering papers at age 8; also at age 8, working as an apprentice to Peter Simmons in his blacksmith shop on Calhoun Street; Philip Simmons's attraction to blacksmithing and the action of the shop; being hired by Peter Simmons at age 13 in the blacksmith's shop where he has worked for 79 years. He also describes his apprenticeship and talks about blacksmithing as an ongoing learning experience; the necessity of adapting skills to an evolving market, from making wagons and horse shoes to ornamental iron work, and equipment for cargo shipments; the affect of the economic boom after World War II; drawing inspiration from nature and "God's creations in Charleston" for design ideas; working with wrought iron, mild steel, brass, and lead; making his own tools; craft as a representation of the past; giving demonstrations at the Smithsonian's Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. in 1976 and 1977 (through John Vlach's invitation) and a gate he made at the festival that was purchased by the Smithsonian and featured in Southern Living; his 1982 lunch with Ronald Reagan on the occasion of receiving a National Folk Award; meeting other blacksmiths through the Southeastern Regional Blacksmith Conference; the public's understanding and reception of blacksmithing; recognition, awards, and publicity for his work; involvement with craft educational programs at schools, museums, and churches; the function of the Philip Simmons Foundation; blacksmithing in Charleston as a national tourist attraction; the relationship of farming and blacksmithing by slaves to his own blacksmithing; the impact of travel on his work; working with Ira DeKoven; his interest in preserving traditions; corporate versus private commissions; the importance of mechanical drawing skills; preserving old piece, salvage work; his retirement because of arthritis; current interest in sketching and drawing; family life with his wife and three children; and his involvement with the community.
Biographical / Historical:
Philip Simmons (1912-2009) was a blacksmith from Charleston, South Carolina. Mary Douglas (1956- ) is the curator at the Mint Museum of Craft and Design in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Originally recorded on 2 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 4 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hr., 7 min.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
For more information on how to access this interview contact Reference Services.