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BIEHLE FAMILY

The BIEHLE FAMILY were designers and painters who worked on frescoes and decorative painting for such clients as the Chamber of Commerce, churches, and several of Cleveland's foremost families. August Frederick Biehle, Sr. (4 July 1856-10 Nov. 1918), the senior family member, was born in Freiberg, Baden. His father, a manufacturer of costume jewelry, died when he was 4. Until he was 14, he attended school in his home town and sang in the choir of Freiberg Cathedral. He was apprenticed with a "master painter" and went to a trade school, where he focused on drawing. After working in other European cities and completing a 3-year military service, he emigrated to America in 1880. Biehle came directly to Cleveland and ultimately took a position with L. Cooks (later called Cooks Bros.), where he stayed for 16 years, the last 8 of which as chief designer and painter. In 1897 he went into business for himself and contracted to do work for the firm of L. Rohreimer and L. H. Hays (later Rorimer Brooks Co.). His work appeared in the Chamber of Commerce and many mansions and churches in the northeastern part of the country. Of Biehle's 5 children, AUGUST F. BIEHLE, JR., achieved distinction as an artist in his own right. The Biehle Bros. firm was formed by 3 of the children of the elder Biehle's brother Frederick A. Biehle, Sr. (1857-1916), a master decorator of mansions. The firm decorated in the Cleveland area ca. 1920-50 under the leadership of August W. Biehle (1882-1961), whose apprenticeship and college degree were received in interior design. Other members were his brothers Karl (1897?-1949) and Frederick A., Jr. (1881-1945). A 4th brother, William A. Biehle (1890-1979), formed his own decorating business in Chicago. Carrying on the family tradition into a 3rd generation were a son and daughter of August F. Biehle, Jr., Frederick August Biehle became an artist and art educator, while Reta Biehle Alder was active in Cleveland's music community as a pianist, organist, and choir director.