HUDSON — The restoration of a historic home is expected to happen sooner than expected now that two philanthropic groups are working together on the project.

Peg’s Foundation, a Hudson-based charity dedicated to making an impact on mental health, education and the arts, announced it intends to purchase the approximate 1-acre site at West Streetsboro Street and First Street that includes the historic Baldwin-Buss-Merino home located on the southwest quadrant of the city’s Village Green. Now vacant, it was last occupied by legendary Hudson athlete and merchant Rich Merino, who died in Connecticut in 2016. 

The property, which also contains the former Merino beverage store on First Street and a two-story brick office building on West Streetsboro Street, has been for sale for more than a year.

The Baldwin-Buss House Foundation (BBHF) has, for the last several months, raised money to both purchase the entire property and restore the 1825 Baldwin-Buss-Merino home. Donovan Husat, co-president of BBHF, said the $875,000 the foundation had raised put BBHF "a little over halfway" to the amount needed to buy the property.

Now that Peg’s Foundation has committed its own funds toward the land acquisition, BBHF can use its donated money for the restoration efforts, Husat said.

"It puts [the restoration] on a much faster track than it would've otherwise," said Husat. "We’re pleased. We’re very appreciative that Peg’s Foundation stepped forward and partnered with us to get that done."

Rick Kellar, president of Peg’s Foundation, said he is happy that his organization will assist BBHF to help the group fulfill its vision.

"We’re excited about their vision for the future of that home," said Kellar. "… We’re grateful to have a group of folks that are passionate about the restoration of that home and feel good about it."

Peg’s Foundation said it is the largest mental health funder in northeast Ohio and has provided grant money to mental health, education and the arts since 2001, when it was founded by Burt and Peg Morgan. 

BBHF is dedicated to the restoration, preservation, and the ongoing conservation of the Baldwin-Buss House and its setting on the historic Village Green.

BBHF originally had until Nov. 7 of this year to raise the money to purchase the land, but then the current property owner extended the deadline to Jan. 7.

Kellar said a purchase price has not been finalized, but noted he is hoping to have his organization close on the acquisition in early 2020.

Husat noted BBHF contacted multiple foundations about receiving funding assistance. He added they spoke with Peg’s Foundation officials about various ways to help with the project. Kellar said his group had been in discussions with BBHF officials for the last several months.

Husat said BBHF has received monetary pledges of $875,000 so far and are now contacting donors to receive the funds. He added that donations are still being sought, noting the organization leadership believes it will cost more than $1 million to perform the desired work on the historic home. Once the purchase is finalized, Husat said BBHF will soon enlist the assistance of experts on the preservation work.

"As the money comes in, we really need to work with somebody who is a historic preservationist to determine exactly what the first steps are going to be with that house," said Husat.

He noted BBHF wants to remove the three additions that were put on the house after it was first built, get the exterior restored and also work on the structure’s interior.

Husat said the Baldwin-Buss House is approximately 5,200 square feet, but BBHF wants to remove non-original components to restore the building to its original footprint, which would leave the house at about 3,200 square feet.

Potential uses of the house being considered include an art gallery, historic displays from the Hudson Library & Historical Society, lectures and programs, and a community meeting area.

"Many of our contributors are very supportive of using the property for that purpose," said Husat.

For the area outside of the building, Husat said donors support the planting of a garden which would offer a spot where community members could sit and enjoy the view.

Husat added his group is speaking with various foundations and investigating possibly seeking state and federal historic preservation grants.

"Our Founder, Peg Morgan, a longtime Hudson resident, would be proud knowing her foundation has a fundamental role preserving a cornerstone of the community’s historic Village Green," noted Kellar.

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, pkeren@recordpub.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.