Birch, Ernest O. and Edward E. [Birch Bros.]The Birch brothers, Ernest (1884-1951) and Edward (1887-1974), were born in Winchester, KY. They were the youngest two sons of Jane and Samuel Birch, who was a barber. Their oldest brother was Arthur Birch, a hotel porter, according to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. The family of five lived at 125 E. Third Street in Winchester. Ernest and Edward Birch would go on to create a partnership in 1908 known as Birch Brothers, an architecture business in Cincinnati, OH. They were not licensed in Ohio, but are recognized as two of the earliest African American architects in the city. Ernest Birch was a graduate of Kentucky Normal and Industrial Institute for Colored Persons [now Kentucky State University], where he first studied to become a teacher, and later switched to carpentry.
Edward Birch studied architectural engineering at Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute [now Hampton University]. According to the 1910 census, the two brothers were managing their business and lodged at the home of William and Eliza Ford on West Canal Street [Eliza Ford was born in 1867 in KY]. By 1920, Ernest was the husband of Corenna Birch (born 1891 in KY); she is also listed as Ernest's wife on his World War II Draft Registration Card in 1942, a period when Ernest was employed by the Rubel Baking Company. He is listed as an architect at 3146 Gaff Avenue in the 1946 William's Cincinnati (Ohio) City Directory.
Also in 1920, Edward Birch was the husband of Susie B. Whittaker (born 1890 in KY); at that time, Edward was employed as a Pullman Porter. The couple and Susie's sister lived on Mountfort Street in Cincinnati. Edward Birch was previously married to Eva Downey (born 1890 in KY), and they had a son named Augustine E. Birch, ( born in 1908 in KY). The couple divorced in 1916, and Eva and her son Augustine are listed as living in Winchester, KY in the 1910 and 1930 censuses. Edward Birch is listed as a draftsman at 1123 Yale Avenue in the 1936-1937 William's Cincinnati Directory. He is credited for designing the Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
For more see the Ernest Octavius Birch entry and the Edward Eginton Birch entry, both in African American Architects, 1865-1945, edited by D. S. Wilson.