Just before 3:00AM on March 7th, the colorful Party Animal House (a favorite of children) located on Mt. Elliot (between Heidelberg and Elba Streets) was destroyed by arson, the 9th fire over an 11-month period. Though DFD responded within five minutes of the first call, their focus quickly shifted from the already destroyed Art Installation, to protecting the adjacent home of longtime residents. Though the neighboring structure suffered significant water and fire damage, its residents were unharmed and remain in surprisingly good spirits. This is the ninth fire set at the internationally renowned art environment since May, 2013, when The Obstruction of Justice house was first set ablaze.
Following the destruction of the House of Soul on November 12th, 2013, Heidelberg Project supporters around the world rallied to pool over $54,000 to fund the implementation of a comprehensive security plan for the HP community, including increased lighting, mobile patrol, and surveillance equipment. Additionally, the Erb Family Foundation along with the Kresge Foundation kicked in additional funding just under $18,000 to help with the overall plan and patrolling.
Although a massive undertaking for a small and inexperienced organization, every possible precaution was carefully taken into consideration as the plan came together. “We had already spent over *$23,000 on patrol alone, which quickly became cost prohibitive considering the larger plan which totaled about $75,000. We staggered patrol as long as we could, some street lights were turned on, and at the same time we installed temporary cameras. Weather conditions were horrendous, but we labored through. Just as we finalized the larger plan, we were hit again," says Executive Director, Jenenne Whitfield. "Who does this?”
Although a temporary security camera was in fact installed near the Party Animal House, the camera also suffered fire damage and exposure to extreme temperatures, both of which contributed to the impairment of the camera. The FBI continues to monitor the area, though no developments have been reported.
After losing five anchor house installations to arson last year, the Heidelberg Project has spent the first quarter of 2014 in close-knit strategy sessions retooling and realigning their services with the community. The organization's focus remains on their community during this time. “As tough as it is, a chapter is obviously closing, but it’s far from over,” says Tyree Guyton. “It’s a new beginning.”
*Correction*: Initially, we reported that mobile patrol expenditures have already totaled $23,000. Unfortunately, in our haste to report to our followers, we read the wrong line item. The actual mobile patrol expenditures total $15,611, thanks in large part to the in-kind donation of services sponsored by our private security firm. We apologize for the misinformation, and hope you'll forgive our faux pas.