From the empty lot where his childhood home stood to his father's abandoned auto factory, a tour through the remains of the Romneys' Michigan.
DETROIT, Michigan — Mitt Romney’s Michigan is gone.
The son of former Governor and local hero George Romney has been campaigning through the state in recent days on the strength of his local roots, and the name of his father. "Michigan's been my home, and this is personal,” runs the tag line to his unavoidable campaign commercials.
But BuzzFeed’s visits to Romney’s childhood haunts reveal the same desolation that marks most of Detroit. His childhood home has been razed. The once-grand American Motors World Headquarters where George Romney held court is now an abandoned, unguarded maze of empty cubicles, littered with drywall and broken glass.
Romney has sought, in stump speeches from Detroit to Kalamazoo, to remind Michigan of his family’s legacy, and of his deep personal affinity for the state. But while some older residents remember the Romney name warmly, days spent touring the candidate’s old stomping grounds tell the story of a faded family legacy —and suggest that if Romney wins this state, he’ll do it on his own.
Romney was born in a Detroit subdivision called Palmer Woods located by 6 Mile and Woodward Avenue, where he spent the first years of his life before his family moved to a northern suburb. Six decades and more than one foreclosure later, the 5,000 square-foot house at 1860 Balmoral Drive had fallen into disrepair, with residents referring to the perpetually-under-construction property as "the blue tarp house." In 2010, it was finally demolished after neighbors lobbied the city to declare it a "public nuisance."
Now, there's a lawn-mowed vacant lot where the house used to stand.
In a speech last week, Romney used his old home as a metaphor for the tragedy that has befallen his hometown.