On December 10, a fire burned to the ground the Clock House, the fourth building that was part of the Heidelberg Project, a renowned Detroit public art installation. It was the eighth fire in a string of arsons that have plagued the community there since May of this year. Only three of the seven main Heidelberg houses remain, nearly bring to a close a legacy of public art that has brightened the community there for almost three decades. It is the city’s third-most popular tourist attraction, according to NBC News. Tyree Guyton started using found objects, paintings, and other ephemera to adorn the houses in the east Detroit neighborhood 27 years ago, in an attempt to help reinvigorate the spirit there. And yet, after these vicious attacks, his work may be lost, to the whims of a caustic and callow firebug.

A $30,000 cash reward is being offered for any information that may lead to the arrest of anyone in the case. Yet there are currently no suspects.


The project started an internet fundraising campaign to help rebuild and protect the surrounding community, as it’s become clearer and clearer the attacker won’t stop until the entire community is burned to the ground. There are less than two days of the fundraiser left, but the Heidelberg Project has almost met its $50,000 rebuilding and safety goal. “The destruction of artwork and history is disheartening and frustrating, yes,” the project leaders write on the fundraiser page. “The fact that these fires are inching nearer and nearer to our long time neighbors, however, is absolutely unacceptable.” They are seeking funds for security cameras, nightly patrols, and improved lighting.

In a city experiencing the largest municipal bankruptcy in history, at the risk of losing all its fine art as well, these attacks seem particularly callous. Here’s to rebuilding the Heidelberg project.

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[via The New York Times]