Photo Cullen – Upper Montclair

January 25, 2022 § Leave a comment

The following appeared in a local paper (The Montclair Times) in reference to the rehabilitation of 574 Valley Road in Upper Montclair, NJ.

For years the big building at 574 Valley Road, Upper Montclair was a storehouse for a TV and Radio Co. and looked quite unattractive and neglected. In 1965, however, things began happening – the building underwent a metamorphosis under the skillful hand of Dereck Kipp, Upper Montclair architect. A good-looking back Plaza entrance was cut through with new stairways showing through glass walls and on both sides of the back entrance a pretty shop was made ready for occupancy. Up front on the Valley Road side an extension with great windows on three sides was built. The new owners must love light because other windows were cut in all over the building. A side door appeared which led to office space on the second floor. The ugly, non-descript outside color disappeared and the soft green with white trim which replaced it made the building an outstanding one. Photo Cullen, an excellent photographic center, had come to town!

The name of Cullen as a photography shop is an old one in Montclair. Originally started in Newark in 1882, the business was moved to Bloomfield Ave., in Montclair in 1920. Here it stayed under Mr. George Cullen, son of the original owner, until 1959 when Mr. Elvin Hallander purchased it from George Cullen. Mr. Hallander, who had been in the air-conditioning business all his life and was tired of the constant strain and moving about the country decided to follow his avocation-photography-in his home state. He was glad of the opportunity to buy the Cullen business.

In 1962 the Hallanders saw that the present Upper Montclair site was for sale and they purchased it but did not start making the aforementioned changes until 1965. In March, 1966 they moved in. It is known as The Hallander Building and houses The Record Rack, and The Book Corner as well as many business offices and their own shop.

The Photo Cullen shop is most attractive-lovely blue walls combined with walnut wood. Wall-to-wall carpeting, handsome cases and shelving, filled with cameras and other photographic supplies, make it an exciting store to visit. Mrs. Hallander tells me that they have a full line of equipment, most of which is neatly stored back of the scenes. Following the sad and untimely death of her husband, this fine lady is carrying the business on “as he wanted it”. She is President of the organization and her son is Vice-President. With the exception of their Manager all of their helpers are Upper Montclair people.

Mrs. Hallander is civic-minded and is especially interested in promoting Upper Montclair and its fine shops. She, the Hallander Building and Photo Cullen are an asset to our Town and we wish her well.

Pretty sure the author misunderstood my Grandmother when she gave some of the details. My Grandfather was an Engineering and Wharton Business graduate who oversaw his Father’s family business, Star Electric Motor company, Newark, and then Bloomfield before selling that business after his father died to help set up his mother for her final years. Besides supporting the war effort, my Grandfather oversaw the expansion of the business into the infrastructure side of the Dry Cleaning business where SEC manufactured equipment. His subsequent cancer is probably related to his work in this part of SEC’s business. He did work in Air-Conditioning moving to La Crosse Wisconsin to either lead, or be part of the leading team at Trane, an emerging name in that business, but left a few years later to lead another company in Anderson Indiana. The sale of Star did not go over well with the “Other” Hollanders here in North Jersey, hence the skedaddle off to Wisconsin, but by the mid fifties the realization that Elvin had done the “right” thing settled in and they wanted to get back to Jersey where their roots lay.

The Hallander Building Today from Valley Road.

The Hallander Building Today from the rear plaza.

Published Montclair Times

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