By Jacklyn Allen
Denver (KMGH/CNN) - A Denver homeowner believes his house was booby trapped by gangsters.
The house used to belong to a notorious family that ran the city's underworld.
On the outside it may look like any other historic home in its north Denver neighborhood, but on the inside, the secrets of a gangster's paradise are finally revealed.
When Matt Feeney bough his 1891 Victorian on Osage Street, it needed some TLC. So he started to knock out the walls, and the walls started to talk.
"So as we're starting to knock it out, hitting it right here, we're smelling matches as if they're being constantly lit," said Feeney.
He says buried in the plaster he discovered a row of matches.
"We ended up finding what I'm calling a fuse. It went behind the cabinets, and it led to these canvas packets, taped up against the wall," said Feeney.
Matches, fuses, newspapers: Feeney feels his new residence was rigged.
[Reporter]: "So, you think this house was booby trapped?"
"I do, I think that might've just been a way for them to quickly make a distraction," said Feeney.
He found out the first homeowners were Denver's most infamous connection to the mob.
"They were great for selling papers," said Dick Kreck, author of Smaldone, The True Story of an American Crime Family.
Kreck wrote the book on the Smaldone family, which basically ran the city's underground gambling from the 30s through the 70s.
"They were sort of b-level gangsters, but I always tell people we still love them today because they were our gangsters," said Kreck.
Gangsters who needed a hideaway.
"I had to redo some foundation girders in the back half of the house," said Feeney.
And before long, he found something in the cellar.
"It's like they almost tried to stucco over it, so we started chiseling away and we found the little seam," said Feeney.
The bolted door finally opened leads to a hidden chamber. Empty now, but once filled with secrets.
In the room where Denver's most notorious crime family kept things hidden they didn't want found are two concrete walls. There's also a dirt wall, where the homeowner thinks at one point there may have been a tunnel to get out.
"This is my grandma and this is my grandpa," said 82-year-old Eugene Smaldone. The house belonged to his grandparents.
The story goes that once during prohibition police raided it and found the liquor, but his father and uncle took the rap.
"The Sopranos. Nothing like them. Nothing at all," said Smaldone.
And while he doesn't believe anyone booby-trapped the house to burn, Kreck says during that time, there were a series of unsolved murders almost all to the advantage of the Smaldone family.
"I don't think you stayed in business 40 years being nice guys. Not in that business," said Kreck.
So far, Feeney says he hasn't found any evidence of foul play. Only photos and letters and a bottle of poison.
If only the walls could really talk.
Since the book on the Smaldone family was published Feeney has seen people stopping by his block to look at the house.
He jokes that he may start charging people $1 to come inside for a look.