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Fire strikes Detroit's famous Heidelberg Project, again

Credit The Heidelberg Project / via Facebook
via Facebook
"The House of Soul," before and after the November 12th fire.


The Heidelberg Project's Executive Director Jenenne Whitfield told the Detroit Free Press that security cameras and extra lighting will be added to the project.

Fire has destroyed another home that’s part of the Heidelberg Project, a world-famous Detroit public art installation.

For decades, artist Tyree Guyton has used the blighted landscape of Detroit’s east side as the basis for his art.

But once again, Guyton and his team were out scraping away at the debris left behind by fire on Tuesday. The “House of Soul”—an abandoned home with an exterior covered in vinyl records—burned down early that morning.

It was the fifth time in a matter of months that fire has struck part of the Heidelberg Project. But Guyton says he won’t let the apparent string of arsons “stop the spirit” of his project.

“We can’t wait to clean it up and get started,” said Guyton as he kicked at the burned rubble. “I refuse to stop. We’ve got to show the world what we’re made of. And I’m going to use art to show who we are.

“The world is my canvas. And so I’m going to use this as a way to show the world what’s possible.”

The Heidelberg Project’s Executive Director, Jenenne Whitfield, believes the fires are the work of an arsonist targeting the project.

Whitfield and Guyton strongly suspect someone in the community, and say they’ve shared that information with law enforcement.

“If an investigation was conducted, trust me, they would get to the bottom of it,” Whitfield said. “But it’s not our job to do that.”

Whitfield praised the Detroit Fire Department for quickly containing and putting out the blaze. A department official told the Detroit Free Press the arson division would look into the case--though Whitfield issued a statement late Tuesday indicating the department had declined to investigate since "no bodily injury or death was caused as a result of the fires.

"We will continue to positively impact our community through art," Whitfield continued. "When I stop and reflect on what 2013 has brought with these series of fires, I am convinced that we are on to something very powerful. If this were not the case, negativity would not rear its ugly head."



Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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