Gropius House

Wool Rug

Purchased by Louis McMillen (TAC architect) in Samawa, Iraq, this rug was brought back in the 1960s and given to the Gropiuses. McMillen was running the TAC office in Baghdad at the time, and as he was preparing to leave the county for home, he was informed that he would not be permitted to bring any Iraqi currency with him, so he purchased wool rugs by the bale from a local vendor with his remaining money and had them shipped to the United States. McMillen later recalled that he paid no more than $40 for the very best examples. Once the rugs arrived at home, he distributed the bulk of them to members of TAC. He recalled having a lottery whereby each individual picked a number and then selections were made based on the number picked. When the original rug McMillen had given the Gropiuses became too badly faded for display, he offered Historic New England a replacement, one of several that was still folded and stored in a closet at his home in Concord. Attributed to “Marsh Arab” weaving of the Samawa area of Iraq.

Photograph by John Russo.