Browsing Room Rug Still Strong After 55 Years
Neilson Library re-opened its doors this week, there was
a notable stillness throughout the building, a stark contrast
to the intense end-of-semester activity just two weeks ago.
Steve Omartian (on left) and Cecil Hector stitch fresh
patches into the Neilson Browsing Room rug.
But all week long in the Browsing
Room, two carpet specialists work diligently to repair the
great Persian Mahal rug that has adorned the floor since
1955. Originally purchased for $2,750 from Toros Omartian & Sons of Springfield, the rug has been maintained
ever since by three generations of the Omartian family and
their employees. To replace the rug with one of similar quality
and dimensions would cost $70,000 today, estimates Steve
Omartian, who now runs the flooring company.
his employee, Cecil Hector, are busy patching and sewing
holes worn into the 40-foot rug, beginning at one end and
intending to reach the other end by Friday.
The Neilson Browsing
Room rug was originally 44 feet long, Omartian explains—too
big for the room. A 4- by 20-foot remainder that had been
cut from the original rug has been used to make repairs for
more than 50 years. The remainder looks like new compared
to the rest of this high-traffic rug. If you look closely,
you will notice the brighter colors in the areas that have
As the men sew—Steve with red thread and Cecil
with white—Cecil tells of how he came to work for Omartian.
It’s the only job he has held since he immigrated to the
United States from Jamaica in 1981.
With a background in
shoe making, he arrived in Springfield and was encouraged
to go to the unemployment office to look for work. Steve
Omartian had just called in a request for someone to repair
carpets. Cecil was instructed to walk the few blocks to Omartian’s,
where his neat handiwork was recognized at once.
as he remembers his aunt, a longtime employee, pointing out
that Cecil’s stitches were straighter and neater even than
hers. After a short trial period, Cecil was offered the job
and has sewn many carpets and rugs since.
The Neilson Browsing
Room rug is his latest project.