Holiday Hours: Presidents Day

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Gen. George Washington taking command of the Continental Army in Cambridge in 1775.

Washington's Birthday will be celebrated on Monday, Feb. 17, 2014.

The holiday was first enacted by Congress in 1879 to mark George Washington's birthday on Feb. 22 and later moved to the third Monday in February in 1968. While the name of the federal holiday remains Washington's Birthday, it is more often referred to as Presidents Day to include the birthday of Abraham Lincoln on Feb. 12.

Washington was born in 1732 (or Feb. 11, 1731, according to the old-style calendar) in Colonial Virgina. A Founding Father, he would lead the new nation as head of the Continental Army in the Revolution and as its first president under the U.S. Constitution for two terms. He died Dec. 14, 1799, at his home in Mount Vernon.

His military background brought him to Cambridge in 1775 as commander of the newly formed army just months after the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Cannon taken from Fort Ticonderoga were dragged through the Berkshires on their way to Dorchester Heights, where Washington placed them to force the British out of Boston in 1776.

During the yearlong siege, Washington stayed at a house that would later become known as the home of literary giant Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a frequent visitor to the Berkshires. His vice president was John Adams of Quincy, who would become the first president to live in the new capital of Washington, D.C.

Lincoln, our 16th president who led the nation through a bloody Civil War, was born in 1809 in Kentucky. During September 1848, he spoke at the Whig convention in Worcester as well as in New Bedford, Dedham, Lowell and Boston but apparently not the Berkshires. His son, Robert Todd Lincoln, attended Harvard and later lived in Manchester, Vt., at Hildene.

While Washington and Lincoln never slept here, a number of other presidents did, or at least spent time in the Berkshires.

In Massachusetts, the holiday is "unrestricted" in that businesses may open at will without permits or special pay provisions.

Closed:
Federal, state and local offices; no mail delivery.
Stock market
Banks
Most public libraries will be closed
Colleges and schools (most schools are on winter break for the week)

Open:
BRTA running
Restaurants and bars
Convenience stores
Retail stores
Most offices and businesses


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