History & Ownership
Rustigian Rugs was established by George Rustigian in 1930 in the midst of the Great Depression. "Rusty", as he was known to all, had graduated from Brown in 1928 and continued on to Harvard Law School. The fall of the stock market and the resulting economic climate compelled him to leave school and support himself and his mother. Prior experience in the oriental rug business in New York and New Orleans prepared him to take advantage of the familial contacts his mother had in the rug industry. The rugs he bought and borrowed from the Michaelian family in New York formed the core of the rug shop which began in the family home on Benefit Street in Providence.
Over the years, Rusty plied his trade in both new and antique carpets. Predictably, the business expanded in scope and for many years Rustigians was also a specialty vendor in the sale and installation of wall to wall carpeting. The 1802 Federal style house adapted to these changes: after WWII the basement of the Benefit Street house was excavated by hand so Rusty could have an office proper (James Miranda, the artisan of this project, is still on staff today). The four-car garage became a showroom for rolls of carpet and, ultimately, the building which used to house the family horse (Gertie) was converted into a dry room for the oriental rug cleaning operation. Of a summer day, it was not unusual for a passerby to see the house literally draped in customer rugs - drip drying on fences, basking in the sun on the driveway, hanging from specially built railings!
In 1980 Rusty's daughter Roz took over the family business. Before his death in May of that year, Rusty had wound down his operation and spent much of his time following the up and downs of the stock market. The business was, however, still very viable given the singular and energetic qualities of its founder and Roz was able to maintain contact and business relationships with many a customer who remembered Rusty so fondly.
In 1981 Roz bought the building in which the rug store now resides.