Historic Charleston Gates – A Brief History

Amongst stunning architecture and well-preserved historic homes, Charleston boasts some of the world’s most beautiful and ornate gates. Guarding the entrance to a driveway or a secret garden South of Broad, wrought iron gates can be found at the most prestigious of homes in downtown Charleston.

Wrought iron is a tough yet malleable metal, ideal for crafting into the beautiful patterns seen around Charleston. Historically, iron was not only made into gates, but also into grilles for first-floor windows, sharp spikes on top of fences, and boot scrapers (a necessity before paved streets). In the mid to late 1800s, iron was increasingly used for embellishing gates with beautiful life-like replicas of flowers, leaves and branches that reflected the popular Victorian style.

One of Charleston’s most well-known artisans, Philip Simmons, produced hundreds of decorative gates and other ornamental ironworks. Called “Keeper of the Gate,” his work has stood the test of time and his legacy is loved and appreciated by many. From St. John’s Church and Hibernian Hall to private residences, his beautiful swirled iron designs can be seen all over the city. Simmons’ work can also be viewed at the South Carolina State Museum and Smithsonian Institution.

For those looking to incorporate the beauty of wrought iron metal work into their property, there are many local companies who specialize in replicating the well-loved styles of antebellum ironwork. Or perhaps you have been fortunate enough to inherit a stunning gate with the purchase of a new home. Either way, the next time you are in downtown Charleston, make sure to enjoy a closer look at the intricate gates that decorate the Holy City.