The Baldwin-Buss House, familiarly known as the “Merino House,” was built in 1825 by Lemuel Porter--a leading master builder / 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.
Lemuel Porter (1780-1829) was born in Waterbury, Connecticut. He was part of the New England tradition of carpentry that moved to the Western Reserve. He arrived in Tallmadge, Ohio in 1818 with his young family and immediately became an important builder. Lemuel Porter and his son, Simeon Porter (1807-1871), were among the most prominent carpenter-builders and architects of the classical era in Western Reserve history.
The skill and reputation of Lemuel Porter were so well known, the trustees of the newly founded Western Reserve College (1826) in Hudson awarded him the contract to design and build the first structures on the campus. Lemuel completed the work on Middle College and South College (both demolished) and was in the process of finishing up the attractive Presidents House on Brick Row when he died unexpectedly in the fall of 1829. The trustees had such confidence in the work of the Porters, they extended Lemuel’s contract to his son, Simeon, who completed the work on Brick Row over the next decade.
The Baldwin-Buss House's architectural significance is further corroborated by its inclusion in the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) whose drawings and photographs are archived in the Library of Congress.
Western Reserve Architect in 1929 described the house as follows: “The Ionic pilasters, the pedimented gable and the classical moldings have been executed in such delicate and refined lines that it presents a pleasing appearance . . .” I.T. Frary in his book Early Homes of Ohio (1936) went further and described it as “one of the finest houses of Hudson”.
“One of the most dignified houses in the town is the Baldwin-Buss House whose classic front, with its great Ionic pilasters, is exceptionally pleasing. The detail is excellent, the fanlight in the pediment being of unusually good design, and the doorway has the small reeded columns in pairs and the incised sunbursts that are common in parts of New England but are quite unusual in this vicinity. Like many houses of its type, it has a low wing at one side, set back from the front and running parallel with it.”
“An Ohio Town of New England Traditions,”
The House Beautiful, July 1922
"The house was used as both a home and a tavern for many years after it was built. It was one of Hudson's early stage coach taverns.
The construction is of the heavy, hewn timber of that pioneer period. The joists are 7 to 9 inch diameter logs hewn either on top, or on top and bottom, and still show the bark on them. Three of the four original fireplace mantels are still in place. They, the hand-made doors, hand-moulded trim, stairs, all exterior pilasters, trim and details, and all carved posts are remarkably well executed. They show unusual craftsmanship and understanding of design."
Historic American Buildings Survey, April 1934
Baldwin Family 1825-1856
Augustus and Frederick Baldwin arrived in Hudson, Ohio on June 12, 1812 and were pioneer merchants. Their journey from Goshen, Connecticut took nearly four weeks. They brought with them dry goods to open a store in the new township of Hudson.
There were seven sons, Augustus being the eldest, and one daughter in the Baldwin family. During the following years all of the siblings would settle in Hudson for part of their lives. The Baldwins proved to be prominent citizens of Hudson--building fine homes, establishing businesses, farming the new lands and engaging in civic life. Augustus was a successful merchant, forming a partnership with his brother, Frederick.
In 1825 Augustus Baldwin hired Lemuel Porter to build a beautiful and impressive house overlooking the Village Green of Hudson. His father, Stephen, was one of David Hudson’s business partners in the original land lottery.
In 1838 Augustus Baldwin died and was survived by his wife, Ann. She remained in the home until 1856 when she sold the property to John C. Buss.
John Buss Family 1856-1907
The second owner of the Greek Revival home was also a merchant. John Buss was born in England and emigrated with his family to this county in 1825, settling in Sherman, New York. At the age of twenty-two he came to Hudson to further his studies, intending to prepare himself for the ministry. Illness forced him to abandon his studies, but he remained in Hudson. Mr. Buss kept a diary from 1833-1874 leaving Hudson a descriptive narrative of life in Hudson during this period in history.
In July of 1836, Buss became a clerk in the Kent and Brewster dry goods store and remained with them until 1839. A partnership was formed with E. B. Ellsworth in 1841 to sell dry goods and groceries. Buss then entered into a business with T.M. Bond. The partnership continued for three years. When Mr. Bond retired, the business was owned by Buss. The business survived into the 1930's with John Buss' son, Charles, continuing to operate the store.
John Buss was active in the Hudson community. He was elected mayor for two terms, held the office of Corporation Treasurer for four terms, was a member of the Council, Trustee for many years and served as Justice of the Peace for twelve years preceding his death.
Carono and Merino Families 1907 - Present
Michael Carono and his wife, Domenico, bought the house with their son-in-law, Gaetano (Charles) Maiarano (Merino), and their daughter, Grace, in 1907. Each owned one half of the house. The families had come to the United States from the Naples area of Italy. Both men worked on the Pennsylvania Railroad, conveniently located near the house. Living space in the house was divided by the two families. The younger family (Maiarano) lived in the larger portion and Grace's parents (Carono) resided in the south wing.
The 1910 census shows that Mr. and Mrs. Carono had two daughters residing in their household. The Maiarano family at this time had two children, Fred and Albert. By 1920, according to the Federal Census, the family had grown to include five Maiarano children: Fred, Albert, Cecilia, Michael, and Minnie. Their ages spanned ages six to twelve. Later, two more boys were added to the family--Richard and Arthur.
Michael Carano died in 1930 and his share of the house passed to the Merino family. Mrs. Carono lived until 1931. Upon her death her share also passed to the Merino family.
Richard (Rich) Merino (1921-2016) returned home from serving in the Navy after WWII. His father, Charles, felt beer and wine were in short supply in Hudson. In 1946, Rich and his father pulled a chicken coop located on the property closer to the road (Main Street) and opened the Merino Beer and Wine Store. Eventually, the store was moved to a new location on the property and was elevated to accommodate the First and Main Street development.
Rich and his wife, Louise, raised their family in the house, owning it solely since 1972. They, along with other members of the family, have owned the home for over 100 years. Rich was a lifelong resident of Hudson and lived in the home where he was born the majority of his life. He was a Hudson High School star athlete, WWII Navy veteran and a beverage store proprietor. Friends remember his love for golf.
NOTE: Ownership history provided by Hudson Heritage Association, Baldwin-Buss-Merino Historic House Report, May 2008.