Graceland! As I think everyone in the world knows, Graceland was the home of the one and only Elvis Presley. This lovely white mansion is located at 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard in the Whitehaven Community of Memphis Tennessee.
When Elvis first started to be successful he purchased a modest home for his family on Audubon Drive in Memphis. As his fame and popularity grew so did the crowds of fans and journalists who gathered outside this home. Although the neighbors liked having a celebrity in the neighborhood, the crowds grew to be too much and some of them complained.
In 1957 Elvis asked his parents to start looking for a farmhouse type property he could buy with a price range around $100,000. Gladys and Vernon found the limestone mansion already named Graceland. It had been named for the original owner’s daughter Grace. The home had four columns at the entrance and two lions one on either side of the portico. Elvis was happy with their find and on March 19, 1957 he made a down payment of $1,000 and agreed to purchase the property for $102,500. The sale was finalized on March 25.
Elvis made many renovations after his purchase. He added a fieldstone wall to surround the property, a wrought iron gate with a musical theme, a swimming pool, and racquetball court. He also added what has become known as the “Jungle Room” featuring an indoor waterfall. The mansion has twenty-three rooms which includes eight bedrooms with baths. It sits on 13.8 acres of land.
Later Elvis commissioned the Meditation Garden. This is where he, his parents and grandmother are buried. There is also a small stone remembering his twin brother who died at birth, Jesse Gordon. In 1978 the Meditation Garden was opened to the public.
Priscilla Beaulieu lived at Graceland for about five years before she and Elvis married. She lived there another five years after they were married in Las Vegas on May 1, 1967. She separated from Elvis in 1972. Graceland was daughter Lisa Marie’s first home after her birth February 1, 1968. As a child, even though her parents were not together Lisa Marie spent a good deal of time at Graceland.
Elvis’ mother Gladys died in 1958. Vernon Presley then married Dee Stanley in 1960. Vernon and Dee lived at the home for a time. However, Elvis and his stepmother did not see eye to eye. Elvis would go on tour only to come home and find Dee had rearranged his home. Finally Elvis had Vernon and Dee and her three children moved to another house at the edge of the property.
Like most people Elvis had a list of what should be in his pantry at all times. In addition to the usual items we all stock I found a few items to always be on hand unusual. He wanted unfrozen, fresh, lean ground beef, brownies (to be made fresh daily), banana pudding (to be made fresh daily), fresh hand squeezed orange juice, chilled. Of course, it goes without saying, peanut butter.
Elvis received so much mail it would not go into a mailbox. Every morning the post office truck would drive around to the back door to deliver the 500-600 letters as well as several packages received each day.
Elvis died suddenly at Graceland on August 16, 1977. During his lifetime the gates were rarely opened.
After Elvis died Graceland became a museum and opened to the public June 7, 1982. The property was placed in the National Register of Historic Places on November 9, 1991. On March 27, 2006 it was designated a National Historic Landmark.
Graceland hosts over 600,000 visitors each year making it one of the most visited private homes in America. Among its most famous visitors were George W. Bush hosting the Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi for a tour in 2006. The prime minister is a big Elvis fan. Also visiting was Prince Albert II of Monaco with his fiancée Charlene Wittstock in 2010.