When the streets close down for the Fredericksburg Christmas Parade on December 4th, keep an eye out for a forest green house on Amelia Street, decorated with a banner and other trimmings. That house is Camellia Cottage, and will be celebrating its 150th year. Its owner, Norris Dickard, plans to host a singing of Happy Birthday with the surrounding crowd. But 150 years is not all that The Cottage deserves to celebrate.
When Dickard and his wife, Dr. Delise Dickard, purchased Camellia Cottage, they were unaware of its rich historical significance. Of all the cities that held battles during the Civil War, Fredericksburg was one of the most horrifically damaged. Camellia Cottage was built in 1871, initially on a lumber yard at Princess Anne Street, to assist with the reconstruction of the city. It was not long after its construction that a local doctor, H.M.D. Martin, purchased The Cottage to lend a healing hand to Fredericksburg. He converted the home into a medical office, and moved the house to the corner of Amelia and Caroline Street.
It is fitting then, in that regard, that Camellia Cottage continues the practice of healing the citizens of Fredericksburg to this day. Dickard, a retired federal employee and trained life, leadership, and executive coach, and his wife, a psychotherapist, operate a business out of The Cottage to aid patients with their life paths and mental health. According to Dickard, their practice and focus is specially fitting for this house. Much like Dr. Martin, Dr. Dickard is devoted to healing local residents of their pain and struggles. “The healing is clear with my wife,” Norris Dickard said. “Many people have really just been healed and thank her for all the services.”
For Dickard however, his work as a life coach coalesces with The Cottage as well. He highlighted the assistance of the cottage during the reconstruction of Fredericksburg after the Civil War. As he put it, The Cottage offered refuge and a path for the city to better itself when it needed help the most. “To some degree, that’s what [life] coaching is,” he said.
As The Cottage enters into its 150th year, it is clear that there is much to celebrate for this historic landmark of Fredericksburg, including its short stint as a Speakeasy during the years of Prohibition in the 1920s. But for the Dickards, the history is only progressing, as they leave their beneficial footprint on Camellia Cottage as well.
You can learn more about Camellia Cottage, and the work of the Dickards, here.