Star Pin Company Shelton CT: An Insider Look











Historical

Star Pin Company was first located in Far Mill River in the Wells Hollow area of Huntington before moving to Canal Street in 1875 due to booming business and the Ousatonic dam upstream that provided crucial industrial energy. It had also used power generated by the Fulling Mill Brook before moving to Canal. The company that manufactured hairpins, pins, and eyes for clothing was founded on September 25, 1866, with a starting capital of $40,000. A hefty sum of capital for that period. In addition, it was the only factory in Shelton that was made of brick. In the early 1950s, the company even produced the packaging and boxes that held the pins. The company closed its doors for good in December 1977 after 107 years. To see more pictures of its early days, check out the fantastic book, Naugatuck Valley Textile Industry.

James C. Hubbard, one of the founders and early officers of the company invented one of the first automated hairpin making machines in the United States. In keeping it within the family, his son Henry Franklin Hubbard designed the machines that made the first bobby pins. This accreditation is a bit of misshapen history because according to the Naugatuck Valley Textile Industry, the American Pin Company actually created the machines developed by none other than John Howe, a Connecticut doctor. Star Pin adapted the Howe machines for their use in pin manufacturing.

The company was also known to employ water-powered generation to generate lighting. So many factories around the United States to this day began along canals, rivers, and dams for their energy needs, water consumption, and environmentally damaging waste removal. 




Current

On June 13, 2020, Star Pin Company's long-vacant property along Canal Street in Shelton/Seymour, Connecticut was gutted by heavy fire. The fire consumed the two buildings with untold asbestos contamination into the nearby Housatonic River and surrounding residential housing and apartments. It required around 150 firefighters from Shelton and Derby to staunch the inferno. The city of Shelton was in the process of selling to Bridgeport-based developer Primrose Companies to develop and convert it into 72 residential units and 128 parking spaces. The city had foreclosed on the site for $600,000 in unpaid back taxes in 2018. That deal was premised on the city cleaning up the contamination from its past uses. The building held over 52 separate businesses that included an art gallery, custom firearms maker, and a photography studio.  Last year, a $750,000 grant was approved by the state Department of Economic and Community Development for removing asbestos, lead, and PCBs from the 118,000 square foot building. 















You can see more in-depth fire photos at Firescenes.

The cause of the fire still remains under investigation by local authorities. 

Location: 267 Canal Street, Shelton, Connecticut

Status: Demolished due to fire damage.






Sources:

1. Gioiele, Brian, "Shelton Star Pin factory fire: 'We lost a part of history', June 14, 2020, CT Post

2. Gioiele, Brian, " Demolition begins at Shelton's Star Pin factory site damaged in blaze". June 15, 2020, CT Insider

3. Hall, Phil, "Fire destroys Shelton's 19th century Star Pin factory", June 15, 2020, WestFair Online

4. "Shelton Mayor: Star Pin fire debris may contain asbestos", June 15, 2020, News12 Connecticut

5. Orcutt, Samuel, & Beardsley, Ambrose, "The History of the Old Town of Derby, Connecticut, 1642-1880", Harvard University

6. Shields, Mary Ruth, "Naugatuck Valley Textile Industry", January 10, 2011, Arcadia Publishing Incorporated

7. Derby Historical Society, Ansonia, Connecticut. Link

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