The museum contains replicas of two dozen of the duchess' famous jewels, along with a pearl necklace and earrings she wore, plus two pairs of her gloves. There's a silver spoon and china from the coronation that never was (production started long before the duke abdicated), and letters to the duchess from her pattern maker.

"We just started up the museum because of the location," Baty says. "We also wanted to make a space available for charitable events."

But few neighborhood residents can boast not one, but two portraits of the duchess hanging in their living quarters. Other Biddle Street neighbors, when asked about the couple's Nazi connections, probably wouldn't begin their reply as Baty does:

"Not everyone has read the file that the FBI kept on the duke and duchess. But I have."

(He goes on to explain that the files contains just four letters, all obviously penned by crackpots.)

As Letzer sees it, Baty's museum is a step in the right direction. So are the commemorative flags — also conceived by Baty — displayed throughout Mount Vernon.

After all, it's not as though Wallis Simpson's memory is going to fade away.

"What interests me about the duchess is that she endures," Letzer says.

"Seventy-five years after the abdication, they're still talking about her. Not about him — about her. She was a commoner, and she changed the course of history."

If you go

The British author and royals expert Hugo Vickers will lecture about his book, "Behind Closed Doors: The Tragic, Untold Story of the Duchess of Windsor," at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 23, at the Maryland Historical Society, 201 W. Monument St. Tickets cost $35 for historical society members and $50 for nonmembers. Call 410-685-3750.

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