Volunteers rebuilding 1 of Heidelberg Project houses that burned in suspicious fires

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DETROIT — Volunteers on Saturday started rebuilding one of several houses that were part of a popular outdoor Detroit art installation and that burned down under suspicious circumstances.

Members of the United Auto Workers and others erected walls on the foundation of the Heidelberg Project's "House of Soul," The Detroit News reported.

The vacant house had been covered with old vinyl albums. The rebuilt version will be approximately the same size as the original and make use of remnants of other Heidelberg Project homes that were lost to fires over the past year.

"We said we're not going to sit down and let it go away. This is plan B," founder Tyree Guyton said. "We're going to show the world what we're made of."

The Heidelberg Project got its start in 1986 on the city's east side as a response to urban decay. The two-block area became famous over the years for creating art using shoes, clocks, vinyl records, stuffed animals and other found or discarded objects.

It initially was viewed as an eyesore by city officials, who demolished parts of it at various points in the 1990s. It since has found its way into cultural and public acceptance and now attracts tourists from across the country and gets a seal of approval from the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Authorities continue to investigate the string of fires that started in May 2013.

Organizers of the project said installation of a security and surveillance system was completed in June.

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