SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – In Springfield Friday was an early observance of George Washington’s birthday at the site of the statue of the father of our country in front of Holy Name Church on Dickinson Street.

Celebrating the occasion Friday afternoon were Mayor Domenic Sarno’s Chief of Staff Tom Ashe and Holly Stone Blair of Springfield, the Vice President of the National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution.

“Behind me is a world renowned statue, there are 38 in the whole world, and luckily in Springfield we have one of them,” said Blair.

In 1784, the Virginia General Assembly commissioned sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon, one of the most famous sculptors of that time, to create a Washington statue. The original was made in marble and placed at the Virginia State Capitol in 1796. Bronze copies were later created and shared throughout the world, some as far as France, England and Peru.

What makes the Springfield statue of George Washington rarer, it’s one of only two in the Commonwealth. Researchers say is was purchased by “Father McGovern” and installed in 1932. The other statue is located in Lexington.

The early birthday greetings for the first President of the United States were contained in a proclamation issued by Mayor Sarno, “I am very appreciative of Holly Stone Blair and the D.A.R. Mercy Warren Chapter’s continued efforts to highlight the steeped history of our Springfield and our nation.”

Washington’s birthday is on February 22.