Shelton’s historic but long-vacant Star Pin factory was destroyed in a fire that broke out on the evening of June 13. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined and there were no injuries reported, although fire officials warned that asbestos was released into the air during the fire.
The factory opened in 1875, covering 125,000 feet of total floor space. Company co-founder James C. Hubbard has been credited with inventing one of the first automated hair pin manufacturing machines. Hubbard’s son Henry Franklin Hubbard succeeded him at the corporate helm and designed the machine that created the product that later became known as the bobby pin. In the 1950s, the company later expanded into manufacturing folding paper boxes.
Star Pin went out of business in 1977 and the factory was acquired by Genie Manufacturing Co., a division of North American Philips. In 1985, the property was renovated and reopened as a space to accommodate smaller businesses, including a custom arms maker and an art gallery. The property, which was under consideration for the state’s historic site register, has been unoccupied for the last 15 years. In 2018, the city of Shelton foreclosed on the site for approximately $600,000 in unpaid back taxes.
Over the past year, Shelton’s municipal government has received grants from the state Department of Economic & Community Development and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the remediation of hazardous building materials at the site.
In March, the city announced Bridgeport-based developer Primrose Cos. offered $500,000 to convert the property into a multifamily housing development with 72 units.