Imagination Station nearly burns down in Detroit, artist community mourns loss

Fire rips through Detroit community art project called Imagination Station

By Lauren Podell - Reporter


From blight to beauty and back again, known as the Imagination Station, the abandoned side-by-side houses nearly burned to the ground after they were set fire Wednesday morning.

"I got the call around 7:15 this morning that houses were up in flames," said founder Jerry Paffendorf. "Amazingly, Detroit Fire Department was right around the corner getting gas and they were fantastic, they helped salvage what's left."

The homes, nick-named "Lefty & Righty" are a community art project thought up by a non-profit organization located on 14th Street across from the Michigan Grand Central Train Station. Volunteers bought the homes from Wayne County for $500 a piece in the summer of 2010. They spent two years cleaning the houses so artists could have a place to let their imagination run wild.

"It's like a piece of history to me," said local artist Kristine Diven. "I have friends that have made sculptures in there, painted murals, it's all about energy, momentum and creativity all wrapped up in one place."

The non profit aimed to enhance and preserve Roosevelt Park and highlight the last two standing homes out of a group of 50 built near the train station in the 1890s and 1900s.

"This is what we do, we find the beauty in the blight," said Paffendorf, "We've made lemonade out of lemons before and we'll do it again."

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, no one was injured.