In Madisonville, at the northeast corner of Chandler Street and Glenshade Court, there is a brick church building. This is Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, which has a Black congregation. The building, completed in 1941, was designed by an important Black architect, Edward E. Birch.
The congregation was formed in 1885, and was originally called the Second United Missionary Baptist Church. By the mid-1920’s the congregation needed a larger sanctuary, so they purchased this land on Chandler Street. Ground was broken in 1925 under the pastorate of Rev. Lyman H. Ingraham (also the founder of the Cincinnati Baptist Theological Seminary, now called Cincinnati Christian College).
The basement walls and floor were built first, and then the first-floor framing. Then a temporary roof was added. By June 1926, the church was meeting in this basement structure while they raised money for the superstructure.
The cornerstone of the upper level was laid on the third Sunday in August, 1932. A news item from this time tells us that this church was designed by Edward E. Birch. Birch was an important Black architect, active in Cincinnati between the 1920’s and 1950’s. He also designed churches in Avondale and Walnut Hills, as well as residences.
The Trinity Missionary Baptist Church was completed in 1941. The first service was held on Easter morning. So far, this appears to be the earliest-known public building designed by Edward E Birch.
One of Birch’s other churches was Brown Chapel in Walnut Hills, which began construction around 1924 but was not complete until 1951. At Brown Chapel, Birch followed the same playbook: the basement was built first, a temporary roof was added, and the congregation met in the lower level until enough money was raised to start construction on the church proper. Birch’s third known church, Immanuel Lutheran Church in Avondale, was constructed in 1956-57.
Trinity Missionary Baptist Church has a long history of civic activism. During the 1960’s, many members of the church were also NAACP members and participated in NAACP membership drives. The church itself became a life member of the NAACP, making its first payment on organizational life membership in 1961 and the final payment ten years later.
In 1970, the church joined with three other churches in Madisonville to help develop an affordable senior living complex called the Madisonville Homes for the Elderly – today called Madison Villa. Church members were present at the groundbreaking ceremony that September and again for the ribbon-cutting in 1971. The complex was run by a board of directors composed of the pastor and three members from each of the four churches who had supported the project’s development.
Trinity Missionary Baptist Church then built a new education building just north of the sanctuary. The education building was dedicated in 1974. Today, Trinity Missionary Baptist Church continues its mission of service.