Thursday, September 9 at 7:30 p.m. at Barlow Community Center. Joseph Huber, Jr. to Recount Tumultuous but Triumphant Childhood as a Military Prisoner.
Congratulations to the Baldwin Buss House Foundation and Peg’s Foundation
Congratulations to the Baldwin Buss House Foundation and Peg’s Foundation for their work to preserve one of Hudson’s most important properties. Their vision for the Baldwin Buss House and grounds will significantly enhance Hudson’s historic Green. Hudson Heritage Association is pleased to have been an early funder of this project and we look forward to watching the transformation of this site in the months ahead. For more information about the project, click here.
Read their full announcement below…
Foundations Collaborate to Transform Overlooked Historic Property
Long overlooked, seldom used and periodically threatened by adjacent commercial development, Hudson’s Park Lane Green is on its way to becoming a beautiful and functional extension of Hudson’s historic Main Street business district. But those with concerns about large scale office, retail and residential development need not fear, while those who value historic preservation, reduced density and inviting open space and gardens can celebrate. The details of a major transformation of the land adjacent to the Park Lane Green are being finalized, with a target date of 2023 for completion.
Many in Hudson know that land as the Merino property. The project, a collaboration between Hudson’s Peg’s Foundation (formerly known as the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation) and the Baldwin-Buss House Foundation (BBHF), will see the restoration of the 1825 Federal style Baldwin-Buss House on the site, and removal of both the brick office building near the corner of West Streetsboro and First Street and the former Merino beverage store on First Street. According to Peg’s Foundation president Rick Kellar, in their place, the Foundation will build its new foundation headquarters and a “jewel box” art gallery that will feature exhibits open to the public. Kellar explains that the house, the office and the gallery will be surrounded by open space that will include gardens, public gathering places and a walkway that will connect the National Register Historic Business District and the First and Main business district, creating a campus that will have both public and private use.
The idea for the redevelopment of that land adjacent to the Park Lane Green began two and a half years ago when three Hudson Heritage Association (HHA) board members became concerned about the rapidly deteriorating condition of the Baldwin-Buss House, occupied for 109 years by the Carano and Merino families. It was left vacant and for sale when the house’s last occupant, Rich Merino, moved out of state to live with family. Merino died in 2016.
The HHA board members who turned their concerns into action were retiring co-presidents Inga Walker and Donovan Husat, along with HHA treasurer Kathy Russell. With seed money from (HHA), the three founded the Baldwin-Buss House Foundation, which soon became a tax-qualified 501(c)(3) organization. Their goal was to raise $1.7 million to purchase the entire Merino property, including the two commercial buildings and nearly one acre of land. Within a year, they raised $1.15 million, but were unable to raise the balance by the property owner’s deadline. It was about to go back on the market, putting the house at risk for relocation or demolition.
It was at that point in December 2019 that Peg’s Foundation entered the picture. As Kellar explains it, the Foundation had been considering building a new headquarters and art gallery for some time, and the Merino property was of interest to them. “The obstacle was the house. Our Foundation supports mental health and the arts – both prime interests of Peg Morgan. Historic preservation was not a project we wanted to take on. We did not want to acquire a house that would divert our attention from our mission. But former Hudson Mayor Bill Currin connected us with BBHF, whose sole interest was preserving that house. It was a natural partnership. Peg’s Foundation then bought the house, commercial buildings and land, enabling BBHF to use the money it raised for the restoration of the house.”
“Getting to this point has taken longer than we ever anticipated,” says BBHF co-president Donovan Husat. “A variety of due diligence issues relative to the property needed to be addressed, and progress was slowed significantly by the pandemic. But we are now in a position to move ahead.”
BBHF co-president Inga Walker explains that significant time already has been invested in documenting the historic components of the house and chronicling changes over time. John Milner Architects, a Philadelphia area firm specializing in preservation and restoration of historic properties, was retained to assess the condition of the house and make recommendations for returning it to its original 1825 footprint while restoring its architectural features and integrity. “We want to return the house to its former glory while also taking into account code requirements and its intended use as a community asset,” Walker adds. BBHF treasurer Kathy Russell says that several more modern additions to the house, especially an enclosed porch on the east side, obscure the beauty of the Lemuel Porter designed home, and will be removed.
While planned uses for the Baldwin-Buss House are still a work in progress, both Peg’s Foundation and BBHF agree that the house should be accessible by the entire community as a center for arts, education, regional history and small gatherings. Russell stresses that a key to the restoration will be the creation of a preservation easement that will ensure the protection of the house and surrounding property from inappropriate development in perpetuity.
“When complete, the Baldwin-Buss House and contiguous Peg’s Foundation headquarters will bring to life a long-overlooked property in the heart of downtown Hudson,” Husat explains. “Hudson residents have clearly expressed concerns about large-scale development in the downtown area, and this project will preclude that from ever happening in the area of the southwest Green.” Kellar adds that plans for a new Peg’s Foundation headquarters and art gallery will reduce current density and beautify the area with garden space and landscaping. Designing the campus and the new buildings is the firm of Peninsula Architects, a company well-known in Hudson.
The Baldwin-Buss House Foundation Board applauds the support of the Hudson community that has made the entire project possible. In addition to Husat, Russell and Walker, BBHF Board members include Hudson residents Katie Coulton, John Debo, Pat Eldredge and Mary Lohman, all of whom are well-versed in historic preservation. “More than 300 residents and foundations answered our call for funds to restore this beautiful and historic house,” says Walker. “By so doing, they also made it possible for Peg’s Foundation to use its own resources to further its mental health and arts missions, and to create a focal point for the benefit of the entire community.”
This level of commitment comes as no surprise to Husat, a Hudson native who watched the village of 1,900 residents grow to a city of 22,000 while largely ensuring the preservation of its small-town character through the creation and expansion of its Historic District. Adds Russell, “Given what has happened to the historic fabric of so many other communities in the Western Reserve, Hudson is truly fortunate to have such caring residents. We are honored to be in collaboration with Peg’s Foundation to carry this legacy forward.”
The Baldwin-Buss House was built in 1825 by Lemuel Porter–a leading master builder and architect of the Western Reserve. Porter’s skill and ingenuity produced the Congregational Church in Tallmadge, Presidents House on Western Reserve Academy’s campus, and the Whedon Farwell House located at 30 Aurora Street. All are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and are regarded as fine examples of early Western Reserve architecture. Over its nearly 200 years, the house has had only three owners. But now, its long-term future is assured as it and the new Peg’s Foundation office and gallery transform a forgotten corner into one of the leading examples of historic preservation in the Western Reserve. For further information visit www.pegsfoundation.org and www.bbhfoundation.org.