Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Nyack People & Places

The Amazing 50-year History of Hal Parker’s Nyack Frame Shop  

Hal Parker at The Corner Frame Shop

Hal Parker may be the most important interior decorator in Nyack. He has framed tens of thousands of works in his frame shops for satisfied customers for 50 years as of August 11, 2022. Think for a moment of how many homes and how many walls in which his framed art are found. Then think of how many people have seen each piece of those works. It means, whether they know it or not, that Hal Parker has touched almost everyone in the Nyacks and beyond with his own art form, the perfect frame.

Now ensconced in the historic Corner Frame Shop at 40 Franklin Street, he continues to delight customers, a few of which have been with him since his first frame shops. What makes Hal so successful, how did he get started, and where have his shops been located over time? Here is Hal Parker’s story.

What Makes him Successful 

Hal has a soft, personable style with his customers. “I like working with a customer to find out what they are looking for. Some customers have a fixed idea when they come in. I show them something and say ‘What about this?’. Very often my choice wins out. “

Other customers are not sure what should be done. The customers ask, “what would you do?” Parker probes to get a feel for what they like, and then channels his energies into finding a solution. “It doesn’t matter what I like,” he says. Parker enjoys working with his customers and hearing the “Oh, wow” comment he gets when he pulls the finished work out of its wrapper.

Hal Parker at work in The Corner Frame Shop.

“Frame the painting, not the room – I emphasize the piece itself. If the painting is well framed, it will hang in any situation.”Hal Parker

Hal has the perfect personality for working with customers. He is easy going, appreciates art, and is a master technician. “Every piece is different, and it makes the job so interesting and appealing.

Apprenticeship

Hal Parker was born in Maine. He came  to Nyack in 1966 to attend Nyack College intending to become a minister. Like many students, he needed a part-time work to pay his college bills. A friend suggested he take over his job, framing art in the back of Sam’s Glass & Paint shop. Sam’s was a long-term family-run business located at 163 Main Street (now the home of Patisserie Didier Dumas).

Sam’s is on the right, now Patisserie Didier Dumas. On the left is Retella Grocers. The photo is circa 1984. Courtesy of the Nyack Library.

Parker was a perfect apprentice because he was good at math and could work with his hands. He learned how to join frames, cut glass and mats, and dry mount art. Parker worked at Sam’s during the school year and full-time in summers. Reassessing what he wanted to do after college, he found himself staying on full-time at Sam’s for several years.

Burd House Frame Shop

In 1972, he opened his own business, the Burd House at 55 Burd Street, in a beautiful early-19th-century two-story building that slopes toward the river and sports an unusual card-deck frieze. Parker shared with one of Nyack’s early antique stores, Burd House Antiques, owned by Clint Lyndley, the president of the Nyack Antiques Association. A door on the right went to the antiques store; the door on the left led to Parker’s shop. Parker did his framing in the basement.

Hal Parker was captured in this 1976 Journal News photo.

The first year for most businesses is tough. To make ends meet, Parker had a second job as the breakfast chef at the Strawberry Place, a popular local restaurant. He remembers the owner, Gwen Franco, fondly, for she took him on at a time of need. The long days at two jobs paid off and Parker established himself in Nyack.

Burd House Moves

In 1975, Parker moved to a more visible location at 6 South Broadway, now the home of Tree of Chocolate. The front of the store housed The Gallery in Nyack, and Parker did his frames in the back.

In the late ’80s, Parker moved to an even better location at 102 Main Street where he had enough room for his own gallery in front, as well as a workshop in the back. But his stay at 102 Main was short-lived. Next, he moved across the street to 125 Main Street, on the second floor of the aging shopping plaza now called Riverspace.

The Corner Frame Shop

The Corner Frame Shop with its sporty cut-out corner. An old-time lamp hangs from the attractive cornice.

In 2009, Parker opened The Corner Frame Shop at the southwest corner of Franklin and Depew St. Parker says it is his best location out of his five shops. Aptly named, the store has an attractive cut-out at the corner with a supporting post and a lantern. The attractive two-story 19th century brick building was restored in the early 2000s. The space is light and airy with a view of the Nyack Community Gardens across the street. Onn the back wall of the front room, Parker displays frame samples. Parker’s workshop is in the back.

Historic Building

Built nearly 150 years ago, the building housed grocery stores for many years including the J. T. Gaynor grocery store and the G.F. Dorsey Grocers. Like the frame shop, both offered excellent service. In the case of the groceries, they did home deliveries. The popular Opera House was kitty-corner from the building. Just one block away was the Nyack train staton until it closed in 1965. It was a busy place. 

Art & More Art

Each month, Parker hosts a new Artist of the Month, featuring an artist or a group of artists on the south wall in the showroom. As an indication of the success of Parker’s business, his Artist of the Month gallery is booked through 2023.

Change & Stability

The Corner Frame Shop at 40 Franklin Street.

Parker’s frame stores have been a source of stability for 50 years. By contrast, the village has changed a lot in the last 50 years according to Parker. At the beginning, Nyack had antiques galore with over 40 shops. People came just to shop for antiques. Now those stores are mostly restaurants.

History, art, and soft music make The Corner Frame Shop a fun place to visit. Visit the shop and be sure to thank Hal for fifty years of service in the community.  Counting his apprenticeship, Hal has been at this for nearly 55 years. It is a rare feat. 

Michael Hays is a 35-year resident of the Nyacks. Hays grew up the son of a professor and nurse in Champaign, Illinois. He has recently retired from a long career in educational publishing with Prentice-Hall and McGraw-Hill. Hays is an avid cyclist, amateur historian and photographer, gardener, and dog walker. He has enjoyed more years than he cares to count with his beautiful companion, Bernie Richey. You can follow him on Instagram as UpperNyackMike.

Nyack People & Places, a weekly series that features photos and profiles of citizens and scenes near Nyack, NY, is brought to you by Sun River Health and Weld Realty

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

 


Nyack People & Places, a weekly series that features photos and profiles of citizens and scenes near Nyack, NY, is sponsored by Sun River Health.


You May Also Like

The Villages

This week in the Villages we look at the rumor-filled and then abrupt ending of Starbucks in Nyack and what it means.

The Villages

This week in the Villages, we look delve into all the empty storefronts downtown and look back at St. Patrick's Day festivities through the...

The Villages

This week in the Villages, we look at Nyack's school board, which is expected to go into a special executive session Friday night after...

Advertisement