Aziz Atiyeh emigrated to America from Amar El-Husn, Ottoman Syria in 1897 at the age of 17. To finance his trip and provide him with enough capital to start a business, his family sold a substantial herd of Arabian horses. Initially Aziz worked in Pennsylvania as a supplier, buying Oriental rugs and linens from New York importers and reselling them to peddlers. By 1900, Aziz decided to move West and came to Portland because it was said to be home to many former Northeasterners with a “taste for fine rugs.”
A. Atiyeh opened its doors for business in downtown Portland on Washington Street in 1900, and Aziz soon found the market he had anticipated. Two years later, he sent for his younger brother George and the business became A. Atiyeh & Bro. (picture above.) Their display of Persian rugs won a Gold Medal at the City’s Lewis and Clark Exposition in 1905. At the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition in 1909, Atiyeh’s won another triumph, a Grand Prize over the competitors. They were also awarded the Grand Prize for finest exhibit of Oriental rugs at the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco and the Panama-California Exposition in 1916. These awards are on display in the current Showroom.
While George remained with the store in Portland, Aziz moved to New York City in the 1920′s to establish a wholesale rug importing operation, traveling to Kerman, Persia (now Iran) to set-up their own looms for weaving rugs. The Atiyeh rugs produced there, called Kerman deLuxe, are considered the finest made.