New funds, partnership aid in restoration of the Baldwin-Buss House
by Patty Reiman
As recently as 18 months ago, the fate of downtown’s Baldwin-Buss House hung in the balance.
The home’s owner – a trustee of former owner and Hudson merchant Richard Merino – wanted to sell. The house was in disrepair from years of neglect. And at least one developer had eyes on the home’s five-parcel property, which includes Merino’s former wine shop and the Prestige building on West Streetsboro.
Although questions remain about when and how it will be rehabbed, preservation of the Baldwin-Buss House, which sits prominently on the Village Green’s southwest quadrant, is a certainty today.
Last month, the state of Ohio committed $150,000 from its capital budget to the 1825 home’s restoration. Funds from the state grant are scheduled to be released this spring and will be added to the $900,000 already raised by the Baldwin-Buss House Foundation since its founding in 2019. That’s when three Hudsonites created the organization and gathered support, mostly from private donations, in just nine months.
The donations initially were earmarked to buy the house, but Hudson-based Peg’s Foundation, a philanthropy focused on charitable giving to help those with mental illness in Northeast Ohio, stepped in to help. According to Summit County property records, the foundation paid $1.3 million to purchase the property in September.
“The partnership with Peg’s Foundation has the potential to make this [restoration] happen much more quickly than it otherwise might have,” said Donovan Husat, BBHF co-president. “The people of Hudson will benefit from having a long-neglected and deteriorating historic property transformed to its original architecture and beauty.”
The two groups working together, along with support of the grant application from state Senator Kristina Roegner, Husat said, brought about the funding boost from the state.
“We began discussions with Senator Roegner in 2019,’’ said Inga Walker, co-president of BBHF.. We emphasized saving, restoring and returning to productive use one of Hudson’s oldest houses and one of the most architecturally significant houses in the Western Reserve. We are grateful that she supported our efforts.”
According to Husat, the partnership plans to retain a firm to conduct a report to document the house’s physical history and condition. From that will come a list of repairs or construction, as well as documentation of structural changes or renovations made since it was built in 1825. With that information, BBHF intends to hire an architectural firm that specializes in historic properties to map out restoration plans.
“Until these steps are completed, it’s not possible to provide a definitive time frame for completion of the work,” said Husat. “Our goal is to restore the house in a way that meets U.S. Department of the Interior standards for historic preservation.”
He said BBHF and Peg’s Foundation together will determine how the restored house will be used.
“It is an evolutionary process at this time. Since Peg’s Foundation is the actual owner of the house, our foundation will collaborate with them to determine how it is used,” said Husat.
As for the vacant wine store, Peg’s Foundation President Rick Kellar said its leadership team “is still working through our planning process for usage. We are working closely with BBHF and are grateful for their partnership and passion in preserving this important historic property.”
The BBHF website indicates that once the house is restored, it and the surrounding property, “will be available to the community for events and educational initiatives and to promote awareness and passion for the history, culture and architectural heritage of Hudson and the Western Reserve.”
“The Baldwin-Buss House Foundation is grateful to the residents of Hudson and the several foundations who have so generously responded to our efforts to restore this historic property,” said Husat.
For more information on the history of the Baldwin-Buss House and to donate or get involved, visit bbhfoundation.org. ∞
Featured image caption: Residents (l-r) Donovan Husat, Kathy Russell and Inga Walker spearheaded efforts to save and restore the Baldwin-Buss House. The nearly 200-year-old home, perched near the intersection of state Routes 90 and 303, has a new owner and funds to begin renovations.