Arson fire destroys third Heidelberg Project house in less than two months

An intentionally set fire destroyed the third art-decorated house in less than two months at the world-renowned Heidelberg Project in Detroit early this morning, and authorities believe they may know who started the blaze.

The 3 a.m. fire destroyed the “Penny House,” a popular feature that was adorned with oversized pennies. Just 10 days ago, an arson fire leveled the “House of Soul” home. And in early October, an intentionally set fire burned down the 18-year-old Obstruction of Justice House.

Artists at the growing Heidelberg Project, which is built primarily with found objects like baby dolls, broken phones and gutted TVs, expressed grief and fear that someone is trying to wipe out the decades-old project, which has withstood political attempts to bulldoze the art-studded property.

The Heidelberg Project was created by Tyree Guyton, who continues to transform blocks of decaying streets into vibrant public art.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • Greg Thrasher

    I do not approve of arson but how does one get rid of Junk like the Heidelberg Project shit?? Of course the ruling interests whould never tolerate that shit in their neighborhoods..WTF

    • Keira Paige

      Greg, I don’t know if you are local or if you understand what this project had done for this neighborhood. It was a barren and unbelievably unsafe area. The artist was a local who saw a problem and provided a solution. The idea was to, in the least expensive way, make a place where interested folks would be drawn to therefore deterring crime and keeping the residents safe. The House of Soul that burned down last week was donated to the project by the deceased residents family who loved that the art installation made her mother safer in her life long home and neighborhood. There are usually so many visitors to the project that committing a crime would be a difficult tax and that’s what this arsonist loves about what he is doing. The arsonist is from the neighborhood but he us burning down these homes not because they are ugly but because they are putting a damper on his criminal behaviors. The project shows that we do not have to be millionaires to make a difference for our communities. It shows that we can find the resources we need all around us. The arson has proved that regardless if these homes are standing or a pile of rubble, its not about the art itself, it is about the message. The project is the people and Detroit has some of the best truly good people on its side.

      • Greg Thrasher

        I understand your points about the community but this was junk and only in Detroit is junk viewed as art.. I reject the ‘low expectation of soft bigotry’.BTW I was Made in Detroit !!