Elvis Presley’s Graceland

Elvis may be everywhere, but he lived in Memphis TN.

By 1957, at age 22, Elvis Presley had just finished a Hollywood movie (“Loving You”) and his second album. He had already bought a new house for himself and his parents, but it was being overrun by eager fans, and now he wanted something bigger and more secure. So he gave his parents $100,000 and asked them to pick out a new house. After some searching, they found a 23-room southern-colonial style manor house that had been built in 1939 by a local doctor, on a 13.8 acre tract just outside Memphis. The estate, which contained the main house and several guest cottages, was named “Graceland”. Over the next twenty years, Elvis had other mansions in the Los Angeles area where he stayed, but Graceland was always “home”.

Elvis spent another $500,000 remodeling the mansion. For the most part, he was content to allow his mother to do all the interior decorating. But he had a few private rooms of his own, including the “Jungle Room”, which was decked out in artificial plants, a waterfall, and bamboo furniture. Elvis liked the Jungle Room so much that when he went on tour his plants and furniture went with him, and every hotel room he stayed in was temporarily remodeled with his own fixtures from home. Elvis also had a Music Room (with recording studio), a TV Room, and a Billiards Room.

The entire Presley family, including parents, aunts and uncles, all moved in, as well as Elvis’s touring and business entourage. His girlfriend Priscilla Beaulieu lived here for several years before they were married in 1967, and stayed with their daughter Lisa Marie until they divorced in 1972.

When Elvis died in 1977, his viewing was held inside the house, and he was buried on the grounds, in the “Meditation Garden”, alongside his parents. Graceland was inherited by Elvis’s daughter Lisa Marie, though she was not able to take possession of it until she turned 25 in 1993. Elvis’s Aunt Delta was the last family member to live in the house, and she passed away that same year.

In 1982 Graceland was opened to the public as a museum by Priscilla Presley, acting as trustee for Lisa Marie. There are audio-guided tours of the grounds, including the pool, the Meditation Garden, and the stables, and of the first floor of the mansion, which is preserved in the same state it was in at the time of Elvis’s death (the second floor was occupied by Elvis’s Aunt until her death). Two of Elvis’s personal airplanes are also on display at the nearby Visitors Center.

The estate was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991, and became a National Historic Landmark in 2006. Today it is still owned by Lisa Marie Presley. With 650,000 visitors a year, it is the second most-visited residence in the US—after the White House.


3 thoughts on “Elvis Presley’s Graceland”

  1. The gates of Graceland were nigh unto impenetrable when secured. At least, they proved able to repel Jerry Lee Lewis’s attempt to breach them in one of Detroit’s finest armored passenger vehicles of the 1970’s.

    Lewis is still alive, having obviously made a secret Faustian arrangement to outlast the rest of the Million Dollar Quartet, Roy Orbison, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, and pretty much every other Sun artist and r’n’r pioneer.


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