BOSTON — If you’re familiar with Boylston Street, you’ve probably seen Bartevian inc., a shop owned and operated by Patricia Bartevian, 99. She manages the business, founded by her father, as the last member of her family.
The quaint antique/consignment shop at 160 Boylston St., at Edgar Allan Poe Square, has been there for more than 100 years. Fans of Poe have sought out the place; passersby would simply be intrigued by the woman waving hello through the window. The smell of antiquity pervades the interior. There are some old CD, DVD, purses, jewels, but also kerchiefs, old cameras, paintings, VHS tapes, and even some antique kettles and vases. In the middle of this endearing mess, some treasures hide in plain sight. Bartevian is one of them. She had a big smile, long grey hair, and deep blue eyes. Her dazzling voice alone indicated that she’d had real-life adventures — adventures that she liked to tell anyone passing by her door.
Fleeing Death in the Ottoman Empire
Bartevian wrote a book five years ago about her family’s history, The Bartevians, A Boston Family, which she said, “is the history of a family of Armenian descent from 1900 to 2021.”
It all began with Patricia’s father, Gregory (Krikor) Bartevian, who came to the United States to flee the first wave of the killing of Armenians that preceded the genocide. He hailed from Van, Turkey, and studied in Istanbul. After graduating, he helped his father, Hagop, who owned a shoe factory. But Gregory lost his parents when he was a teenager, in the early 1900; his mother died from an illness, and his father was murdered by the Turks while he was travelling for work. Gregory joined the Armenian resistance and fought against the Turks. During one battle, he was seriously wounded and was sheltered by the Armenian monks. At that time, according to Patricia, the Apostolic Church used to secretly hide resistance fighters and secured immigration sponsors to the United States for them. Once healed, he managed to escape to England. Eventually, in 1905, he sailed on a boat from Liverpool to Boston.
In the United States, he worked for several businesses and made some crucial friendships. One of his friends was Jack Lowell Gardner, Isabella Stewart Gardner’s husband — yes that Isabella. They both became loyal Bartevian inc’s customers when Gregory first opened it in 1910, supported by his friends, when he gathered enough money to buy the building.