Republican presidential nominee Willard Mitt Romney was born in Detroit on March 12, 1947.
His parents, George and Lenore, owned a 5,500-square-foot home in the exclusive neighborhood of Palmer Woods until 1953, when they moved to the suburbs and the even-more-exclusive locale of Bloomfield Hills. There’s no wonder the place holds a special place in his heart: It’s where he attended school and met and married his future wife.
Quiet and rural
Fewer than 3,900 people live in Bloomfield Hills. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city’s population is 86.2 percent white, 6.7 percent Asian and 4 percent black.
What is now Bloomfield Hills was a farming area until the turn of the 20th century, when wealthy Detroit residents bought up the land. The settlement, located within Oakland County in eastern Michigan, became a village in 1927 and a city is 1932.
The city’s official webpage describes it as a “community of residents that value strongly the traditions of quiet, rural residential properties. … Bloomfield Hills’ residents hold professional or executive positions of authority or high profile positions in professional sports. Many have chosen to live and remain in Bloomfield Hills for the quiet, wood lots, privacy and stately homes.” A few of its most notable past and present residents include entertainers Aretha Franklin and Selma Blair; television journalist Bob Woodruff; athletes Isiah Thomas, Al Kaline, Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman and Joe Dumars; and business giants John DeLorean, Lee Iacocca and Roger Smith.
There is no real “downtown” Bloomfield Hills. Instead, the area is dotted with expansive estates surrounded by stone walls and iron gates.
Bloomfield Hills consistently ranks as one of the top five wealthiest cities in the United States consisting of more than 1,000 households. According to the Zillow Home Value Index, Bloomfield Hills’ median home value is $617,800; by contrast, 20 miles away, Detroit’s median home value is $29,400.
‘It just feels right’
Despite his family’s affluence, Romney attended Bloomfield Hills public schools until the seventh grade, when his family enrolled him in Cranbrook School, an upscale boys’ prep school whose handsome campus is still sprinkled with brick Tudor buildings. In 1962, when his father was elected governor of Michigan, the youngest Romney took up residence in Cranbrook’s Stevens Hall. Many former classmates remember him as a prankster; a boy who was admired for becoming his own man and not riding on his father’s status as an auto industry executive and governor.
Romney was in fourth grade when he first encountered the former Ann Davies, daughter of a manufacturing executive and one-time Bloomfield Hills mayor. He recalls little about the meeting except that he threw rocks at the second-grader. When she turned 16, she caught his attention again at a mutual friend’s birthday party. The two attended a dance at Kingswood School for Girls, Cranbrook’s sister institution, in March 1965. Three months later, as Romney graduated from high school, the young couple informally agreed to be married.
Romney left Michigan to attend Stanford University for a year; he then went to France for 2.5 years of service as a Mormon missionary. He and Ann married soon after he returned, on March 21, 1969. The first part of their wedding took place in the Davies family home in Bloomfield Hills in a civil ceremony attended by approximately 250 guests including President Gerald Ford. The couple then flew to Salt Lake City for a church ceremony in the Mormon Temple.
During a February 2012 campaign stop in the Wolverine state, Romney spoke passionately about his old stomping grounds:
I was born and raised here. I love being in Michigan. Everything seems right here. You know, I come back to Michigan; the trees are the right height. The grass is the right color for this time of year, kind of a brownish-greenish sort of thing. It just feels right.”