HUDSON — The future of the city's historic southwest Village Green is in the hands of residents, who have less than three weeks to come up with $1.7 million to purchase the 19th century home and surrounding land at the corner of Route 91 and 303.
Members of the Baldwin-Buss House Foundation, a nonprofit seeking to preserve the 1825 home, are looking for 100 donations of at least $10,000 to purchase the property from its current owner. The foundation earlier this year negotiated an agreement to buy the land by Aug. 10, though an additional 90-day extension option is available at the discretion of the foundation.
If not purchased by the foundation, the land could be sold to a development firm that may choose to move the home and build two- and three-story buildings on the site. The foundation’s "Thanks a Million" campaign is due to be broadcast on HCTV starting this week.
Thus far, the foundation has received pledges that amount to a substantial portion of the purchase price, but that amount is short of the goal, said foundation co-president Don Husat.
Husat said he and co-president Inga Walker came up with the idea of forming a foundation to preserve the home while working with the Hudson Heritage Association.
"We became concerned about the condition of the house," he said. "We sort of moved from becoming co-presidents of the Hudson Heritage Association to being co-presidents of the Baldwin-Buss Foundation."
He said the ultimate goal is to restore the home to its historic configuration.
"Between now and 2025 we want to fully restore the house," he added.
"It is the mission of the Baldwin-Buss House Foundation to buy and restore this house to its original high-style Federal architecture and develop it into a community asset for education, the arts and as a gathering place," Husat said.
If the foundation cannot raise the money, the home may be sold to a commercial developer who could proceed with a plan similar to one submitted to the city in 2015.
He said that plan, which was in "substantial compliance" with city zoning rules, would have moved the house from its original foundation and surround it with commercial and retail buildings two and three stories tall.
While plans did not materialize then, Husat said another company now has its eye on the property for similar development.
Referring to the recent advisory vote on a development plan for the downtown area, Husat said, "Those Hudson residents who don’t like the plans for Phase II most certainly will not be pleased by these development plans either."
The home was built by renowned architect Lemuel Porter in 1825, and today is considered one of the most architecturally significant structures in the Western Reserve. Porter also built the Tallmadge Congregational Church and President’s House at Western Reserve Academy.
Through educational initiatives, the foundation seeks to celebrate the historic and architectural importance of the Baldwin-Buss House and the history and culture of Hudson to inspire future generations. Many in town know it as the "Merino House," as the property’s five parcels include Rich Merino’s former wine store.
The property also includes the Prestige Homes building on state Route 303.
Husat said that if the purchase proceeds, the foundation would assume responsibility for the commercial leases.
The foundation formed in April and signed a 120-day agreement with the property owner.
Eight officers and directors and an advisory board of five members assumed leadership responsibilities for the Baldwin-Buss House Foundation. The officers include Husat and Walker as co-presidents, and Kathy Russell as vice president and treasurer. Those serving as directors of the foundation are Christopher Bach, Katie Coulton, Pat Eldredge, Julie Ann Hanscak and Mary Lohman. All are long-time Hudson residents.
Those agreeing to serve as non-voting advisory board members include Hudson Mayor David Basil and former Hudson Mayor William Currin, along with residents John Debo, Angela Gotthardt, Alison and John Quagliata and Hudson Community Foundation President Amy Jordan.
Earlier this month, Hudson resident Mary Lohman agreed to join the Board of Directors and Jason Klein, a Hudson native and current director of Hale Farm and Village, joined the non-voting Advisory Board.
Those who wish to support the preservation effort are invited to make commitments of financial support. Actual donations will not be accepted until the fundraising goal is met. Those wishing to make a commitment may download an Acquisition Campaign Fund Donation Form at: bbhfoundation.org.
Eric Marotta can be reached at 330-541-9433, or firstname.lastname@example.org.