The Baldwin-Reynolds House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.  Adaptation copyright © 2009, The Gombach Group.
The Baldwin-Reynolds House resembles Southern Greek Revival architecture of the first half of the nineteenth century. It was designed in 1840 and completed in 1843 after a home which the original owner Henry Baldwin had admired near Andrew Jackson's "The Hermitage" in Tennessee.
The four-story, five-bay, brick Baldwin-Reynolds House has a block plan and contains twenty-five rooms. The most dominant feature of the exterior and that which gives the structure its southern air is a two-story verandah, encircling most of the building. In place of Doric columns simple square wooden posts were used on both levels. Those on the second level appear proportionately shorter and taper toward the plain entablature which they support. The intercolumniations are filled with a low balustrade. Doors and windows visible between the posts are equipped with undecorated lintels and sills. Much of the sash is not original.
In 1847 the property was purchased by Baldwin's nephew, William Reynolds. Within the next twenty-five years many changes were made inside and out. Probably during Reynolds day the mansard roof with dormers was added. When the Baldwin-Reynolds House was purchased by the Crawford County Historical Society in 1963 following the death of the last of the Reynolds family, it was converted into a museum. The building contains several rooms preserved with period furniture and the rest are devoted to museum exhibition.
The original owner and builder of the Baldwin-Reynolds House was one of Pennsylvania's political leaders during the first half of the nineteenth century. Henry Baldwin began his political career by serving as the first district attorney of Crawford County in 1800. While Baldwin was a native of Connecticut and a graduate of Yale College, he spent his professional days in western Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.
In 1805 Baldwin married Sally Ellicott, daughter of Maj. Andrew Ellicott who was the nation's first surveyor general under Washington. Shortly after their marriage, the Baldwins moved to Pittsburgh where Henry established himself as a successful lawyer and owner of several iron furnaces during the War of 1812. Beginning in 1817 Baldwin was elected for three terms to the U.S. House of Representatives.
As a Congressman, Baldwin distinguished himself as an advocate of protective tariffs and as a believer in states' rights. His preference for protective tariffs gained him the support of Henry Clay, John Calhoun, and John Q. Adams. Baldwin was also one of the few political figures to support Gen. Andrew Jackson in his Seminole War in Florida. This allegiance to Jackson eventually developed into a close friendship.
Following Jackson's election as President in 1828, Baldwin was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. He filled this position until his death in 1844 — all the while favoring states' rights.
In 1840 Baldwin decided to make his permanent home in Meadville where he had begun his political career in 1800. The Justice styled his home after a southern home he had seen near Jackson's "The Hermitage" in Tennessee. Baldwin's occupancy of his new home was terminated by his death in 1844, only one year after completion of the building. His wife then leased it to the Meadville Female Seminary and it was renamed "Baldwin Institute."
In 1847 Mrs. Baldwin's nephew, William Reynolds, purchased the property and made many changes in the building. Reynolds followed somewhat in the path of his politician uncle. He was an attorney and also ran a land office business with his father. While serving as the first mayor of the City of Meadville (1866) Reynolds was instrumental in getting the railroad there. Later he served as president of the Atlantic and Great Western (Erie Lackawanna). When William Reynolds lived there, the home was painted white and was called "The White House of Meadville."
William's son John Earle became the owner of the property in 1911. He was an attorney, a prominent banker, and respected civic and business leader, as well as Meadville's mayor three times.
In 1963 the Crawford County Historical Society purchased the mansion for its own use. Besides currently serving as a county museum, the Baldwin-Reynolds House is significant for its association with some of western Pennsylvania's most capable leaders. Their political and economic success also contributed to the prosperity of Meadville.
Mook, Judge Herbert A. Henry Baldwin and the House He Built. Unpublished paper delivered at Crawford County Historical Society, 1968.
Reynolds, John Earle. French Creek Valley. Published by Crawford County Historical Society, 1938.