Arsonist burns down iconic Party Animal House at Heidelberg Project

Snow Heidelberg

By Steve Neavling & Adrienne Ayers
Motor City Muckraker

An arsonist struck the sixth Heidelberg Project home in five months, burning down the iconic Party Animal House early this morning and damaging a neighboring occupied home on Detroit’s east side.

The house, which was festooned with stuffed animals at the corner of Mt. Elliot and Elba, was raging with flames at 2:50 a.m. when 22-year-old Janae R. was driving to pick up her mom from work. She immediately stopped, dialed 911 and began frantically knocking on nearby houses.

“I went next door, but I couldn’t get to the house because the fire was so bad,” said Janae, who asked that her full name not be revealed.

When firefighters arrived five minutes later, there was nothing they could do for the Party Animal House. It was consumed by flames. But firefighters managed to protect most of the occupied house, which still sustained water and fire damage. 

No one was injured.

It was the ninth Heidelberg fire since May 2, and investigators believe each was intentionally set.

Janae said she saw a darker gray Mercury Sable leave the scene after she arrived.

But police, she said, weren’t interested in what she saw.

“I tried telling the officers what happened, but they wouldn’t write anything down,” she said. “They didn’t even ask for my name or number.”

What’s  also unclear is why the Heidelberg Project didn’t have security on the scene. The nonprofit raised more than $50,000 late last year specifically for security after the breakout of arsons.

The widely publicized fires have destroyed the “House of Soul,” “War House,” “Penny House,” “Obstruction of Justice House” and “Clock House.”

Guyton created the Heidelberg Project in 1986 after he lost three brothers to the streets. He wanted to brighten up the blight and call attention to the poverty and decay that still eat away at Detroit’s neighborhoods. Guyton slowly began decorating abandoned wood-frame houses with found objects and erected other installations in vacant lots.

The project is now world-renowned and a popular tourist destination.

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.

  • Carl B. Oxley III

    aww. But where are white people from the suburbs going to come and get fleas from nasty old teddys? maybe the 8wood!

  • pat odoyle

    Has tyree said anyone has ever threatened him? This seems like real hardcore grudge stuff like he owes someone money, or screwed someone over in love, business, in the art world, dissed someone etc.

    Burning down 6 homes is pretty much as hardcore as you can go. People are looking for it to happen, Its so brazen.

    • Carl B. Oxley III

      Tyree paints old car hoods and sells them for thousands of dollars. how could anyone get upset about.. wait..

  • Eddy

    “It was the ninth Heidelberg fire since May 2, and investigators believe each was intentionally set.” Wow, brilliant.

  • Tom Nardone

    Kickstarter project to launch in 5,4,3,2…

  • Sizz

    Sickening.

  • bebow

    Arson? Yawn.
    Gang rape? Yawn.
    DPD? Going through the motions.
    The DPD requires revolutionary change or extinction.

  • Bruce Channell

    There shouldn’t have been anymore fires in or around the Heidelberg Project after $50,000 was raised for security purposes.There will be plenty of people questioning what was their donated money used for if there are still fires happening.Very sad in any case.

    • pat odoyle

      that seems like allot of money, unless you mean 24 hours per day. Thats three shifts of 8 hours. How much do you think it costs to hire someone, and how much do you think they should be paid. Its not the same.

      For example teachers make 33-90k per year, but it costs more like 450k per year for total funding of a classroom of 35 kids in detroit.

      These fires seem fishy, but if the first month of security was november or december thats 4 months, times 3 shifts equals a working year.