Mark Keshishian and Sons, The Keshishian Family Story
|Mark Keshishian was born 1894 in a large town/city called Hadjin or Hacin in Cilicia, or Armenia Minor, which was part of Turkey. From his childhood, he developed an understanding of the art of weaving and a perception of the beauty created by the blending of the different colors in intricate designs. The Oriental Carpet Manufacturing Company (OCM, which is still in business today), had established 400 looms in Hadjin
His father also dealt with rugs in the town, and in 1907, had given one of his older brothers $2,500 in gold to start a business, which later was the Keshishian Brothers.
His early education he attended the American School in Hadjin then in 1908, he attended the Central Turkey College in Aintab. In 1913 he entered into the American University of Beirut as a medical student. After two years of studies, he was called up for military service in the Turkish army during WWI. It was during this period that Hadjin fell to the Turks while they exiled all the Armenians. His father, mother, younger brothers and sisters (He the 7th out of 14 children) were exiled from Hadjin and later completely massacred on the way from Aleppo via Ras-ul-ain to Der-Zor (Syria). After the war he would go back and finish his master’s in Pharmacy, graduating in 1919, but was never able to continue to get his medical degree. Even during this time he was buying and selling oriental rugs on the side. By 1921, he rejoined his brother and Keshishian Brothers was established with headquarters in New York and Constantinople with connections in London..But by 1922, he had to leave Constantinople (it was not safe for him there) with his new wife and go to Corfu Greece. By 1923 the Turkey was deporting the entire Christian Population, both Greeks and Armenians. These refuges were landing in Corfu. Mark approached Sir Robert Graves, who had a connection with the League of Nations and Save-the-Children Fund and they formed the Muhajir Rug Company (Refugee Rug Company). They had 40 looms set up and from 1923 to 1925 they were making rugs. In 1925, with wife and child, he went to London and started a wholesale import export business of oriental rugs at 29 Camomile Street, E.C., London. His business thrived there till the depression hit. With capital tied up in New York, he ended up moving to New York, and January 5th, 1931, they landed, now with his wife and three sons… and within six months were in Washington DC. Over the years Mark had the privilege of serving Dignitaries, Embassies, Congressmen, Senators, even the White House. Mark passed away, after a very full life in 1985. Two of Mark’s sons, James and Harold, went into the family business, carrying on the tradition. James passed away in 2003 Harold carried on the business, as well as Melissa Keshishian, Harold’s wife and the third generation, Mark S. Keshishian. For over three generations, the family owned business has offered its clientele the largest selection of exceptional Oriental rugs, antique, semi antique, stylish modern rugs, killims, aubusson, savonerie and many other weavings. Mark Keshishian and Sons is located in down town Chevy Chase Maryland, with convenient parking right in front at 4507 Stanford Street, Chevy Chase Maryland 20815
MK Save the Children Trieste 1922
Mark and Margaret Keshishian in Ostend Belgium in 1924