Stella Moore Smith Murder House

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Enlarging a basic Foursquare plan, this house has an expansive full-length front porch with distinctive Craftsman brackets, was designed by William A. Fisher. Terra-cotta diamonds in the brick porch posts and recessed panels in the secondstory facade are among the few ornaments in this buff brick residence.

Anyone peeping through that still strange-looking window in the early hours of January 13, 1917, might have witnessed one of Denver’s most titillating society murders. Five years before, socialite Stella Newton Britton Moore left her daughter and husband, a man twice her age, to elope with the family chauffeur, John Smith. His gambling, drunkenness, and womanizing soon depleted her resources and soured their marriage. She left him and returned to her daughter and the home of her former husband. Armed and drunk, Smith forced his way into the house where, after enduring hours of his physical abuse and  indignations, Stella shot him with two different pistols, including one she had secreted beneath her pillow. The second shot through the mouth when he twitched prompted murder charges

Her ex-husband hired psychiatric experts to defend her on grounds of temporary insanity and self-defense. After a long, lurid, and sensational trial, from which women were barred over the protests of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, the jury took just fifteen minutes to acquit Stella in one of Denver’s earliest successful spousal abuse defenses.

Noel, Thomas J., and William J. Hansen. The Park Hill Neighborhood. Denver, CO: Historic Denver, 2002. Print.

For more information about this neighborhood, the complete Historic Denver Guide is available from Historic Denver at www.historicdenver.org.