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The History of a Family Business
How we became established in Central Illinois!

A victim of the ongoing heated conflict between the Moslem and Christian population in Lebanon during the early 1900’s, James Demanes, our Grandfather and founder of the family Oriental Rug business, was separated from his family and deported from Beirut, Lebanon in 1905.

Historic Look at the Demanes Oriental Rug He arrived in New York as a young refugee (no one is sure about his true age) armed only with skills learned in the old country to rely on for his survival. In addition to his rug weaving background, James made use of his skills as a stone cutter, barber and confectioner to support himself and his family.  His main interest, however, was the washing, selling and repairing of Oriental Rugs.
He developed relationships with many of the leading Oriental Rug importers in New York, which still remain the heart and soul of our business today. In 1909, James moved to Chicago were he met Mr. Asdig Division and Mr. E. Sarkissian, two of the most well known Oriental Rug merchants in the Midwest. Through his relationship with these two men, James became a well known as an importer of Oriental rugs and an expert on their cleaning and repair. He began traveling throughout the state of Illinois picking up rugs for cleaning and repair. As a result of his travels, he became aware of a large Lebanese community in a small town south of Chicago.

He met his future wife Mary Mickui and moved to Kewanee, Illinois to raise his family. Using the resources and contacts he made in New York and Chicago, James built a cleaning plant in the back of his house and in 1919 established “James Demanes & Sons,” one of downstate Illinois’ first “full service” Oriental Rug businesses. James had expanded the scope of his business to include the importation of household linens, art lace, tapestries and cut work as well as the selling, cleaning and repair of Oriental Rugs.

From that point, the business grew. Outlets were established in a number of cities including Galesburg, Princeton, Monmouth and Peoria. James’s sons Lou (our father) and Roy were now an integral part of the business.

With the onset of WWII, James and Mary struggled to keep the business going while all of his sons were serving their country at the same time. In 1949, the decision was made to move the entire Historyoperation and family to Peoria due to the overwhelming amount of business from that area. On April 5, 1950, the doors opened to James Demanes & Sons, Peoria’s first and only Oriental Rug Salon.
With increasing demand for accessories and furniture to compliment the Oriental Rugs, Lou established a furniture and accessories department in the store. This portion of the business grew quickly and people began to recognize Lou’s natural talent for color and spatial design. He attended the University of Illinois and received his degree in interior design. He later became one of the first American Society of Interior Design (ASID) members in Peoria. His specialty was contemporary design. During this time Roy broke away from the family business and became one of Peoria’s most prominent businessmen in his own right.

HistoryThe building of Interstate 74 through Peoria in 1954 forced the business to move one last time to our present location just a few blocks up the road on Knoxville Ave. The new store was larger and more modern incorporating a complete Interior Design Studio as well as the Oriental Rug Salon. Through the years, Lou instilled in his sons Jim, Richard and Michael the age-old tradition of personal service and passed along the unique processes and techniques of cleaning and repairing Oriental Rugs taught to him by his father Michael, showing a natural aptitude for interior design, worked for years with his father hand in hand to bring our Peoria based company national renown. Lou is now recognized in the national publication “Who’s Who” as a pioneer in the field of contemporary interior design. Michael is well on his way and has added his own individual flair to the company along with the opening of a “Cutting Edge” accessory and gift department.

Today, Jim and Richard are working with the same families of importers as their father and grandfather. These deep-rooted connections have allowed us to acquire an inventory of Oriental Rugs our clients could otherwise find only in the largest of cities.
Through the years our company has evolved and adapted to accommodate our clientele’s needs and desires. Even though our name has changed, we still do all our Oriental Rug washing and repair exactly the way our grandfather did: With a gentleness and care that is yet to be matched by any machine. Our grandfather’s philosophy: “Always provide more for your clients than they expect” will forever remain a tradition at the Demanes Oriental Rug.


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Historic Look at the Demanes Oriental Rug