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Raffle of dollhouse to benefit AIDS services

The Women's League is raffling off this dollhouse, built by former set designer Ronald L. Dion, to raise money for Cambridge Cares About AIDS.
The Women's League is raffling off this dollhouse, built by former set designer Ronald L. Dion, to raise money for Cambridge Cares About AIDS.
Photo / Donna Coveney
Photo / Donna Coveney

FOR SALE: Four-story house on Maine's rocky coastline, fully furnished in the Federal style. Contains fireplaces, secret passages, trap doors, skylight, hidden staircases, porches on the sea, widow's walk, lookouts from all rooms. Rooms include library, dining room, study, servants' quarters, nursery connecting with master bedroom, attics. Stocked with provisions, games, homemade quilt, resident mice, and just possibly--a ghost. Asking price: $5 and a little luck.

The house--really, a dollhouse--is being raffled off by the MIT Women's League on Dec. 18 as part of its fund-raiser to mark World AIDS Day on Dec. 1. The house is on display and raffle tickets may be purchased in the Bush Room on Dec. 1; at the Craft Fair in Lobby 10 on Dec. 4 and 5; and on other days through Dec. 18 in the Women's League office, Room 10-342. Tickets are $5.

Built by Ronald L. Dion, former set designer for the Turtle Lane Theater in Newton, the 34 by 30-inch dollhouse comes with its own history provided by Dion, who generously donated the house to the Women's League. The story goes:

"A middle-aged English sea captain sailed to Boston where he fell in love with a lovely young woman from Maine. They married and the captain built them a home on the coast of Maine overlooking the ocean.

"As he was a sea captain, he spent extended periods at sea. (A model of the first sailing ship he owned is displayed on the living room wall.) He stocked crates of treasure in the attic for his wife in case of his early death. These treasures can be accessed by a series of secret passages and stairways.

"Some years later, weary of waiting for her captain's return, the woman sailed off for England with their young child to be reunited with him. During the voyage, she and the child died when their ship met a violent storm and sank.

"The captain was so distraught he spent the rest of his life in the Maine home hoping that his wife and child would return. Her portrait hangs in their bedroom where he placed a bouquet of flowers on her dressing table each day. He walked for countless hours on the porches and through the rooms, especially the dining room, his favorite vantage point. It is said that the odor of smoke from his pipe and the fragrance of flowers remain to this day, haunting this house where he died."

The Women's League is also holding its annual chocolate buffet today in Lobby 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. People can select three chocolate goodies for $5. Community members can also purchase a separate $5 ticket to win one of 10 items--including dinner at the Blue Room; a baseball autographed by Red Sox second baseman Todd Walker; or a football signed by Patriot player Ty Warren--that will be raffled today.

Both the raffles and the buffet will benefit Cambridge Cares About AIDS, a multicultural, nonprofit agency that provides comprehensive client services to people living with HIV/AIDS. The Women's League raised $2,600 last year with its World AIDS Day activities.

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