A large contingent of Hudson residents gathered on the southwest Village Green on Saturday, Oct. 5, to show their support for efforts to acquire and restore the 1825 Baldwin-Buss-Merino House. Now vacant, it was last occupied by legendary Hudson athlete and merchant Rich Merino, who died in Connecticut in 2016.
Members of the Merino family came to Hudson in the early 20th Century, and went on to become restaurateurs, barbers and merchants. Hudson residents have fond memories of Rich and his legacy.
An estimated crowd of as many as 150 residents, of all ages, heard comments from Hudson Mayor David Basil, Western Reserve Academy American History teacher Diccon Ong and Baldwin-Buss House Foundation co-president Donovan Husat. All stressed the historic significance of the 1825 home, the need for civic engagement and financial support, and the importance of past and present historic preservation efforts that have allowed Hudson to remain an aesthetically pleasing town that respects its cultural and architectural heritage.
A fundraising campaign, led by the non-profit Baldwin-Buss House Foundation, seeks to raise as much as $1.7 million by Nov. 7 to enable the purchase of what is now known as the Merino property. Almost 1 acre in size, it includes not only the historic house built by Lemuel Porter, but also the former Merino beverage store on First Street and the two-story brick office building on West Streetsboro Street.
"At this time, the Foundation is asking only for commitments of financial support," Foundation Secretary and Treasurer Kathy Russell said. "When we reach our fundraising goal, we will then ask for those commitments to be paid within 30 days so we can complete the purchase. Those wishing to provide financial support may visit www.bbhfoundation.org for more information and instructions."
Ong said it should be possible for the community to join together to preserve the home.
"I would go so far as to argue that we cannot safely afford to rely on the capriciousness of dumb luck to safeguard the historical infrastructure that so visibly distinguishes this community from its regional neighbors ... Once lost, old buildings are gone forever and cannot be later reclaimed. Once gone, the valuable history embedded in their hand-hewn timber frames and clapboard siding likewise disappears.
"However, if enough of us are willing to do so, we can ensure the creation of a magnificent community asset that will for generations serve as a prominent focal point on our Village Green and a testament to the positive power of civic engagement and forward-thinking fidelity to the value of preserving the best of our past."
Those attending the rally carried signs declaring "This Place Matters," the slogan of the National Trust for Historic Preservation campaign that encourages people to celebrate the places that are meaningful to them and to their communities.
Members of the Baldwin-Buss House Foundation Board were on hand to answer questions and accept commitments of support for the fundraising campaign.
In addition to the restoration of the property, Foundation leaders want to prevent insensitive development on the remaining open space and protect the vistas on the open green. Of concern is that the property will be purchased by developers who have indicated interest in constructing commercial buildings on the property.
Co-president Inga Walker says that such construction would completely change the character of the Village Green and Hudson’s historic Main Street.
"Our plan will keep that area free of commercial development and enable us to dedicate the house to community use as a center for art, culture, history education and meeting and gathering space," she said. "Hudson has a long history of preserving its historic properties," Russell says. "As has been done so many times in past decades, we are again called upon as a community to keep our town a special and unique place."
"If enough of us are willing to do so," said Ong during his remarks, "we can ensure the creation of a magnificent community asset that will for generations serve as a prominent focal point on our Village Green and a testament to the positive power of civic engagement and forward-thinking fidelity to the value of preserving the best of our past."