Philip Simmons exemplified the Charleston blacksmithing tradition as a master craftsman, passing his knowledge and skills to several generations of apprentices. His specialty was creating decorative ironwork that has become a hallmark of the aesthetic quality of Charleston architecture. Simmons' work as a master blacksmith, teaching the trade to apprentices, kept a traditional Charleston art form strong. His efforts to promote ironwork and educate the public about its value provided the people from that city and all of South Carolina a greater appreciation of the blacksmith in the history of traditional American folk art.
Simmons was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1982. In addition to the many exquisite gates and screens he produced in Charleston, he also produced wrought iron gates for the fine arts exhibition area of the South Carolina State Museum and for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Simmons passed away in 2009. Simmons received the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award in 1988.