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Local History

Washington's Birthday

Washington’s Birthday Observances in Springfield

 George Washington's birthday was established as a federal holiday in 1879. Over the years, Springfield has celebrated his birthday in different ways, which were reported in the papers.

The Springfield Leader on February 21, 1895, reported that Washington’s Birthday was to be celebrated at Drury College by an address at Stone Chapel by Rev. J. L. Sewall of Kansas City, on “Some Qualifications for Public Service.” The public was invited to attend.

The Republican of February 20, 1898, announced that the Post Office would observe the usual holiday hours on Washington’s Birthday. No mail was delivered in the residence district, and only one delivery was made in the business district.

The February 23, 1915, issue of the Republican reported various celebrations about town, including the fourth anniversary service in observance of Washington’s Birthday given at the Congregational Church by the Sons of the Revolution. Residences throughout the city were decorated with the American flag and bunting of various kinds, the Traction Company [streetcars] flew the stars and stripes on the front and rear of its cars and several offices windows held big banners. In honor of the memory of the first president, banks, some stores, many offices, the Frisco shops, and all public offices in the city hall and courthouse, were closed. All schools were closed for the day.

The Republican on February 24, 1920, reported that the annual banquet of the Springfield Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution observed Washington’s Birthday at the Heer’s tearoom. Several members of the society presented programs or songs with the whole society singing the “Star Spangled Banner.”

The Springfield Leader dated February 20, 1925, ran an advertisement for the Heer’s restaurant Washington’s Birthday dinner and program. The event featured patriotic decorations, singers in period costume, and a menu that included Cannon Balls (potato croquettes), Minnie Balls (peas in cream) and the National Bird (roast turkey) with, of course, cherry pie a la mode.

Image is courtesy of the Clark Art Institute.

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