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Lanterman House holds valuable rugs

May 11, 2010|By Michael J. Arvizu

Officials at the Lanterman House museum in La Cañada are debating how to display a pair of rugs recently discovered to be worth about $75,000 each.

The two Ferahan Sarouk rugs from Iran, thought to be made in the mid-1800s, are among more than 25 rugs on display at the house. Due to their value and age, the Ferahan rugs are on the beds in the master and guest bedrooms to prevent people from walking on them.

The Ferahan rugs’ value was discovered during an inventory of the house’s artifacts, including paintings, furnishings and books. Before Lanterman officials knew of the rugs’ value, they were on the floor. One of them had been rolled up and put in storage in the house’s basement when the guest bedroom, where it originally laid, was recarpeted.

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After several years trying to find a carpet expert to determine the worth of the home’s rugs on site, Melissa Patton, the museum’s executive director, finally found a dealer in April. Most dealers she approached previously required that the house’s rugs be cleaned before they could be inspected or rolled up and taken to the respective dealer’s location, something Patton was unwilling to do, given their delicate condition.

“It was very illuminating,” Patton said of the expert’s evaluation. “We wanted to know about the condition of them; we wanted to know what we needed to do to have them last another 100 years.”

Rugs were a staple of the Lanterman residence, built in 1914, as they were used to cover up the concrete floor and provide warmth during cold months. Patton said that at times the Lantermans used up to three layers to cover their floors. While most of the home’s rugs originated in India, some came from other parts of the Middle East, Patton said.

The home was bequeathed to the city of La Cañada Flintridge more than 20 years ago after the death of the last member of the family, Lloyd Lanterman. He and his brother, longtime state Assemblyman Frank Lanterman, were bachelors who shared the house in their later adult years but did not expend efforts to preserve their parents’ home.

Most of the rugs in the house have little or no value today, said Patton, given their poor condition.

“And they haven’t been painstakingly cared for,” Patton said. “The family certainly didn’t do that.”

Other rugs are so worn that they will never go back on display, Patton said.

The Ferahan rugs, however, are another story.

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