Volunteers clean up Heidelberg Project's 'House of Soul' after fire

House on Elba Street in Detroit was burned in suspect arson earlier this week

By Will Jones - Reporter


Volunteers showed up Saturday to help clear out what's left of the Heidelberg Project's "House of Soul" after it burned to the ground earlier this week in a suspected arson.

Digging through the debris, chief curator Lisa Rodriguez said she isn't dwelling on the negativity of the crime. She said it's all about perspective.  

"I think it's up to us and arts to give them a chance to rehabilitate themselves. None of us are perfect," she said.  "So, what we see as something as devastating, we take it and we're going to make art out of it."

The once vinyl record-covered house on Elba Street was destroyed Tuesday.

Read: Fire destroys 'House of Soul' at Heidelberg Project

Slideshow: Heidelberg Project's 'House of Soul' burns

"These things happen. Somebody's got to clean it up. We are a community. We want to better this city," said said volunteer Edina Tursic.

Detroit artist Tyree Guyton started the outdoor art museum almost 30 years ago on the city's east side as a way to revive his childhood neighborhood.

The Heidelberg Project now has visitors from all over the world.

"I knew when I started this project 27 years ago using art as a medicine, it's my way of building bridges and connecting the world," Guyton said. "This right here, what this is saying to me, is that it's working. The art is working."

What will become of the "House of Soul" remnants isn't yet set in stone. But, Guyton said, he will continue to tell the story of the neighborhood.

"Me bringing it back is going to show the people here and around the world the importance of fighting for what you believe in."

No arrests have been made in the arson – which was only one of several to strike the project this year.

Earlier this year, the project's OJ (Obstruction of Justice) House was set on fire, twice -- in May and October.

A statement from Heidelberg Project officials announced planned security measures, which could include additional lighting.

Read: Heidelberg Project takes security steps after fire

More in Community:

Copyright 2013 by ClickOnDetroit.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.