Infobox_nrhp | name =Graceland
nrhp_type = nhl

caption =
location= 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard (Highway 51 South), Memphis, Tennessee
area = 13.588 acres
coordinates = Coord|35|2|46|N|90|1|23|W|type:landmark
built =1939
architect= Furbringer & Ehrman
architecture= Classical Revival
designated = March 27, 2006cite web|url=
title=Graceland |accessdate=2008-10-04|work=National Historic Landmark summary listing|publisher=National Park Service
added = November 7, 1991cite web|url=|title=National Register Information System|date=2007-01-23|work=National Register of Historic Places|publisher=National Park Service]
governing_body = Private

Graceland is the name of the 13.8 acre estate and large white-columned mansion that once belonged to Elvis Presley, located at 3734 Elvis Presley Boulevard in Memphis, Tennessee. It is located in South Memphis' vast Whitehaven community about twelve miles from Downtown and less than four miles (6 km) north of the Mississippi border. It currently serves as a museum. It was opened to the public in 1982, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on November 7, 1991 and declared a National Historic Landmark on March 27, 2006.

Elvis Presley, who died at the estate on August 16, 1977, his parents Gladys and Vernon Presley, and his grandmother, are buried there in what is called the Meditation Gardens.


Graceland was originally owned by S. E. Toof, publisher of the Memphis newspaper, the "Memphis Daily Appeal". The grounds were named after Toof's daughter, Grace, who would come to inherit the farm. Soon after, the portion of the land designated as Graceland today was given to a niece, Ruth Moore, who, in 1939 together with her husband Dr. Thomas Moore, had the present American "colonial" style mansion built.

Elvis purchased Graceland in early 1957 for approximately $100,000 after vacating an East Memphis house located at 1034 Audubon Drive. He moved because of privacy and security concerns, and the opposition of neighbors to the enthusiastic behavior of the many fans who slowly cruised by his home. [ See [ Before Graceland] and news articles cited therein.] Elvis moved into Graceland together with his father Vernon Presley and his mother Gladys. After Gladys died in 1958, and Vernon married Dee Stanley in 1960, the couple lived there for a time. Wife-to-be Priscilla Beaulieu also lived at Graceland for five years before she and Elvis married. [See [,12333,773482,00.html Tracy McVeigh, "Love me tender"] , "The Observer", August 11, 2002.] After their marriage in Las Vegas on May 1, 1967, Priscilla lived in Graceland five more years until she separated from Elvis in late 1972.

On August 16, 1977, Elvis died in his bathroom at Graceland allegedly of a heart attack, according to one medical examiner report at the time. However, there are conflicting reports as to the cause of his death. Elvis was widely popular as a singer. According to Peter Guralnick, the singer "had thrown up after being stricken, apparently while seated on the toilet. It looked to the medical investigator as if he had 'stumbled or crawled several feet before he died.' " The author adds that "drug use was heavily implicated in this unanticipated death of a middle-aged man with no known history of heart one ruled out the possibility of anaphylactic shock brought on by the codeine pills he had gotten from his dentist." [Peter Guralnick, "Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley" (1999), p.651-652.]

After initially being buried at Forrest Hill Cemetery, and following an attempt to rob his grave, Presley's remains were moved to Graceland. The estate has become a pilgrimage for Elvis fans across the world.

Architecture and modifications

The mansion is constructed of tan limestone and consists of twenty-three rooms, including eight bedrooms and bathrooms. The entrance way contains several Corinthian columns and two large lions perched on both sides of the portico.

After purchasing the property Presley carried out extensive modifications to suit his needs and tastes, including: a fieldstone wall surrounding the grounds, a wrought-iron music styled gate, a swimming pool, a racquetball court, and the famous "Jungle Room" which features an indoor waterfall, among other modifications. In February and October 1976, the Jungle Room was converted into a recording studio, where Presley recorded the bulk of his final two albums, "From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee" and "Moody Blue"; these were his final known recordings in a studio setting. [Ernst Jorgensen, "Elvis Presley: A Life in Music - The Complete Recording Sessions" (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998), pp. 394-402]

One of Presley's better known modifications was the addition of the Meditation Gardens, where he, his parents Gladys and Vernon, and grandmother are buried. There is also a small stone placed to remember Elvis' twin brother, Jesse Garon who died at birth. The Meditation Garden was opened to the public in 1978. Graceland was officially opened to the public on June 7, 1982.

According to critics such as Albert Goldman, "'nothing in the house is worth a dime." In chapter 1 of his book, "Elvis" (1981), the author describes Graceland as looking like a brothel: "it appears to have been lifted from some turn-of-the-century bordello down in the French Quarter of New Orleans." And he dismisses the interior as "gaudy," "garish" and "phony," adding that "King Elvis's obsession with royal red reaches an intensity that makes you gag." For more details concerning the decorative arts that makes Elvis's mansion seem a creation as well as a site, see Karal Ann Marling, "Graceland: Going Home With Elvis" (Harvard University Press, 1996). Graceland's "act of faith in serial novelty," the author argues, synthesized the "intense concern for personal style" that made B. B. King notice a teenaged Elvis in a pawnshop years before he was famous and the fashion sense informing the "theme clothes" of the '70s — "carapace [s] of sheer, radiant glory."

Graceland grew from convert|10266|sqft|m2 when originally bought by Presley to convert|17552|sqft|m2 today. Managers of the complex announced a major renovation project that will include a new visitors center, a 500-room convention hotel and high-tech museum displays. The current visitors center, souvenir shops, the 128-room Heartbreak Hotel, and museums will be torn down and replaced with the new facilities. The project will take approximately 3 years to complete.

Presley at Graceland

According to Mark Crispin Miller, Graceland became for Elvis "the home of the organization that was himself, was tended by a large vague clan of Presleys and deputy Presleys, each squandering the vast gratuities which Elvis used to keep his whole world smiling." The author adds that Presley's father Vernon "had a swimming pool in his bedroom", that there "was a jukebox next to the swimming pool, containing Elvis's favorite records" and that the singer himself "would spend hours in his bedroom, watching his property on a closed-circuit television." [Mark Crispin Miller, "Boxed in: The Culture of TV" (Northwestern University Press, 1988), p.192.] Graceland was Lisa Marie Presley's first official home, and residence after her birth on February the 1st 1968 and her childhood home, although her main state of residence was California where she lived with her mother after she divorced Elvis when Lisa was in elementary school. Every year at Christmas time Lisa Marie Presley, and all her family go to Graceland to celebrate Christmas together. Lisa Marie Presley often goes back to Graceland for visits.When she turned 25, [ [ The Estate of Elvis Presley/The Elvis Presley Trust: EPE History and Structure: All About Elvis ] ] Lisa Marie inherited the estate. In 2005 she sold 85 percent of it.

According to Brad Olsen, "Some of the rooms at Graceland testify to the brilliance and quirkiness of Elvis Presley. The TV room in the basement is where he often watched three television sets at once, and was within close reach of a wet bar." [Brad Olsen, "Sacred Places North America: 108 Destinations", p.281.]

Elvis absolutely felt at home in this place. When he would tour, staying in hotels, "the rooms would be remodelled in advance of his arrival, so as to make the same configurations of space as he had at home – the Graceland mansion. His furniture would arrive, and he could unwind after his performances in surroundings which were completely familiar and comforting," the room in question, 'The Jungle Room' being "an example of particularly lurid kitsch." [Andrew Ballantyne, "The Nest and the Pillar of Fire." In "What Is Architecture?" (2002), p.24.]

The Meditation Gardens, designed and built by architect and designer Bernard Grenadier, has been noted as a preferred place of Elvis in the property, where he often went to reflect on any problems or situations that arose during his life.

According to the singer's cousin Billy Smith, Elvis spent the night at Graceland with Smith and his wife Jo many times: "we were all three there talking for hours about everything in the world! Sometimes he would have a bad dream and come looking for me to talk to, and he would actually fall asleep in our bed with us." [ [ Billy Smith interview Part Two." Elvis Information Network] .]

There was some discord between Elvis and his stepmother Dee at Graceland, however, and Elaine Dundy said "that Vernon had settled down with Dee where Gladys had once reigned, while Dee herself - when Elvis was away - had taken over the role of mistress of Graceland so thoroughly as to rearrange the furniture and replace the very curtains that Gladys had approved of." This was too much for the singer who still loved his deceased mother. One afternoon, "a van arrived ... and all Dee's household's goods, clothes, 'improvements,' and her own menagerie of pets, were loaded on ... while Vernon, Dee and her three children went by car to a nearby house on Hermitage until they finally settled into a house on Dolan Drive which ran alongside Elvis's estate." [Elaine Dundy, "Elvis and Gladys" (2004), p.329-330.]

The book "Elvis by the Presleys" reveals several details concerning the singer's life at Graceland including his obsessions and passions when staying at home.

Visits to Graceland

In 1957, Presley invited Richard Williams and Buzz Cason to visit the Whitehaven neighborhood of Memphis, where Graceland is located. They went there in Chester Power's '55 chevy "to get a close look at this mansion Elvis had told us about. ... We proceeded to clown around on the front porch, striking our best rock 'n' roll poses and snapping pictures with the little camera. We peeked in the not-yet-curtained windows and got a kick out of the pastel colored walls in the front rooms with shades of bright reds and purples that Elvis most certainly had picked out." [Buzz Cason, "Living the Rock 'N' Roll Dream: The Adventures of Buzz Cason" (2004), p.47.]

"In the late 50s, Elvis was fond of claiming that the US government had mooted a visit to Graceland by Nikita Khrushchev, 'to see how in America a fellow can start out with nothing and, you know, make good'. Had the old Cold Warrior taken the trip and then lived to see the King's demise, he might have allowed himself a very Soviet laugh at that." (John Harris) [John Harris, "Talking about Graceland". "The Guardian", March 27, 2006.]

On June 30, 2006, when US President George W. Bush hosted Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi for a tour of the mansion, it became the only residence on American soil other than an Embassy, the White House, or any of the other Presidential retreats to have hosted a joint-visit by a sitting US president and a head of a foreign government. (Koizumi, who served as Prime Minister of Japan from 2001 to 2006, is an avid Elvis Presley fan and even shares Presley's January 8 birthday.)

On August 14, 2007 (2 days before the 30th anniversary of Elvis' death) Dale Earnhardt Jr and his grandmother Martha Earnhardt unveiled his #8 Budweiser/Elvis Chevrolet that he raced at the 2007 Chevy Rock and Roll 400 in Richmond the following September 8.

Tourist destination

After Elvis Presley's death in 1977, Vernon Presley served as executor of his estate. Upon his death in 1979 he chose Priscilla to serve as the estate executor for Elvis' only child, Lisa Marie who was only 11. Graceland itself cost $500,000 a year in upkeep, and expenses had dwindled Elvis's and Priscilla's daughter, Lisa Marie's inheritance to only 1 million. Taxes were due on the property, those and other expenses due came to over $500,000. faced with having to sell Graceland, Priscilla examined other famous houses/museums, and hired a CEO, Jack Soden from Kansas City, MO to turn Graceland into a moneymaker. Graceland was opened to the public in 1982. Priscilla's gamble paid off, after only a month after opening Graceland's doors the estate made back all the money it had invested in it. Priscilla Presley became the chairwoman and president of Elvis Presley Enterprises or, EPE stating at that time she would do so until Lisa Marie reached 21 years of age. The enterprise's fortunes soared and eventually the trust grew to be worth over $100 million. Graceland is now statistically the second most visited private residence in the United States, behind the White House.

An annual procession through the estate and past Elvis's grave is held on the anniversary of his death. The largest gathering assembled on the 25th anniversary in 2002. One estimate was of 40,000 people in attendance, despite the heavy rain.

The 20th Anniversary in 1997 had the biggest crowd in Memphis for an Elvis Week. At this time several hundred media groups from around the world were present and the event gained its greatest media publicity as an estimated 50,000 fans visited the city.

The Graceland grounds include a museum containing many Elvis artifacts, like some of his famous Vegas jumpsuits, awards, gold records, the "Lisa Marie" jetliner, and Elvis's extensive auto collection. Recently Sirius Satellite Radio installed an all-Elvis Presley channel on the grounds. The service's subscribers all over North America can hear Presley's music from Graceland around the clock. Two new attractions have been added, Private Presley and the `68 Special exhibits; these can be found across the street on the plaza.

Tours of the museums at Graceland are available, though no flash photography or video cameras are allowed inside. There is an audio tour of the Graceland mansion. The upper floor is not open to visitors out of respect for the Presley family and partially to avoid any improper focus on the bathroom which was the site of his death.Fact|date=September 2008 The upper floor, which also contains Elvis's bedroom, has been untouched since the day Elvis died. Visitors park across the street, boarding shuttle buses to begin the tour of Graceland. Attendants issue headphones, and tourists are individually snapped by a souvenir photographer in front of a painted wall with Graceland's famous music gates. Tour buses drive across Elvis Presley Blvd. through the smallish Music gates. Down the long winding drive the bus stops in front of stone lions that stand watch at the wide red brick front steps. It was behind these lions that over 3500 of Elvis' mourning fans passed by to see his body in its casket. The house is much bigger than expected, photos being of the main part only. A tour guide stands at the closed doors to give a brief history of Graceland starting with the woman (Grace) it was named for and concluding with the fact that Elvis bought Graceland when he was only 22 years old. Finally the door opens to allow entry through the front door where, almost directly overhead, perhaps forever unseen by the public, is where Elvis died, on his bathroom floor.

Upon entering Graceland, the white staircase, filled with reflective mirrors, is directly in front. To the right is the Living Room with the adjoining Music Room, the first room to be presented on the tour. There are guard rails up prohibiting entry to the Living Room and only part of the Music Room can be seen, hidden behind a doorway framed by vivid large peacocks set in stained glass. In this doorway, in front of the stained glass, Elvis' casket was placed for the funeral held in his home. Visible in the Music Room is a white baby grand piano and a old 70's style TV. The Living Room contains a nine-foot white sofa against the wall overlooking Graceland's front yard. To the left is a white fireplace. The painting that was Elvis' last Christmas present from his father Vernon, hangs in this room. Also displayed are photographs of Elvis' parents Vernon and Gladys, Elvis and Lisa Marie. These rooms are then followed with a walk past the grand staircase to Elvis' parents' room.

In Elvis's parents' bedroom white is the predominant color. A velvet-looking dark purple bedspread drapes onto the floor at the foot of the queen size bed. The walls, dresser, bed and carpet are bright white, protected from visitors by a guard rail. To the right is the closet, sealed with clear glass showing four or five of dresses Gladys' wore. To the left is a pink full bathroom, almost obscured from sight because of a velvet rope barrier.

Next the tour takes you into the dining room and the kitchen and continues through the basement, where Elvis's media room with its three televisions can be seen. There is also a bar and billiards room. The tour continues upstairs again, through the famous Jungle Room. After the Jungle room, it exits to the backyard, past Lisa Marie's childhood swing set, to a small white building that served as his father's office. Through the office there is a small room containing a scale model of the home he was born in Tupelo, Mississippi. Elvis' shooting range is housed in what used to be an old smokehouse. Down the sloping lawn, past horses grazing behind neat white fences, visitors enter the "Trophy Room". Originally this space was a sidewalk behind the house that Elvis had enclosed to store his many items of appreciation. Just inside is Elvis' famous gold lamé suit from his early years.

In the Trophy Room many walls display records, movie posters, old time memorabilia of lipstick and shoes, even a 1950's Elvis doll. Among items there are the three Grammy's Elvis won, Priscilla's wedding dress, Elvis' wedding tuxedo, Lisa Marie's toy chest and baby clothes and the infamous hall of Elvis' many gold records and awards. The Trophy Room then winds down the halls through a display of his "68 Comeback", featuring his leather suit, his personal copies of his movie scripts, costumes he wore in many of his movies and a few of his trademark jumpsuits. Also in this room are all the awards and distinctions Elvis received and a display of the many canceled checks Elvis wrote to various charities.

Once again outside, the tour moves past his still fully functioning stable of horses. Elvis's Racketball Court is next, now housing a display of Elvis' sequined "jumpsuits". 's "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain". The sitting area has a floor to ceiling shatter proof window designed to watch the many racketball games that took place here when Elvis was alive. In the early hours of the morning Elvis died he, his girlfriend Ginger Rogers, his first cousin Billy Smith and Billy's wife Jo played a game of racketball ending the game with the song on the piano before Elvis walked into the main house to wash his hair and go to bed. Today the court has been converted into displays of the majority of Elvis' stage costumes. More costumes are on display across the street in the "Sincerely Elvis" area. Many old vinyl records are hanging in the two story court, including numerous posthumous awards. Big screen TVs are scattered throughout Graceland. In the racketball court Elvis' movies and recordings of his Las Vegas concerts play continually. Elvis had the swimming pool built after moving to Graceland.

Just past the pool area is the Meditation Garden where Elvis, his mother Gladys, his father Vernon and grandmother Minnie Mae Hood Presley lie buried. A separate building houses a car collection and not far away his two planes "Lisa Marie" (a Convair 880) and "Hound Dog II" (a Lockheed JetStar) are on display.

National historic landmark

Graceland was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on November 7, 1991. On March 27, 2006, Gale Norton, United States Secretary of the Interior, designated Graceland a National Historic Landmark—joining the White House, the Alamo, Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Dealey Plaza, and Mount Vernon.citation|title=PDFlink| [ National Historic Landmark Nomination: Graceland] |32 KB|date=May 27, 2004 |author=Jody Cook and Patty Henry |publisher=National Park Service and PDFlink| [ "Accompanying 12 photos, exterior and interior, from 2001"] |32 KB] However, as there are almost 2,500 sites in the United States sharing this designation, the elevation, according to John Harris, "falls slightly short", as such legendary sites also include "the Frederick Bagg Bonanza Farm in North Dakota and Kentucky's Louisville Water Company Pumping Station." [John Harris, "Talking about Graceland". "The Guardian", March 27, 2006.]

Recent developments

In early August 2005, Lisa Marie Presley sold 85% of the business side of her father's estate. She kept the Graceland property itself, as well as the bulk of the possessions found therein, and she turned over the management of Graceland to CKX, Inc., an entertainment company that also owns 19 Entertainment, creator of the "American Idol" TV show.

In February 2006, CKX Chairman Bob Sillerman announced plans to turn Graceland into an international tourist destination on a par with the Disney or Universal theme parks, sprucing up the area mansion and doubling the 600,000 annual visitors. Sillerman’s goal is to enhance the "total fan experience" at Graceland to compel visitors to spend more time and money. The company is working with the Bob Weis Design Island Associates, based in Orlando, Florida, to improve the tourist area around Graceland, which is located in an economically-depressed area of Memphis, while keeping intact the historic home.

Sillerman, who has been speaking with investors and developers, said he will ask local governments to help improve some of the public spaces around Graceland. He wants to expand the visitor center and exhibit space to showcase thousands of pieces of Elvis memorabilia that have never been seen. A new hotel is a possibility, or an expansion to the nearby Heartbreak Hotel.

While visitor numbers grew to around 700,000, by 2005, and partly due to the negative impact on US tourism of 9/11, visitor numbers at Graceland had reportedly declined to around 600,000.

Graceland in pop culture

The title of Paul Simon's album "Graceland" and the title track was inspired by Elvis's home. The "title song", which presents Graceland as a holy place, also won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year a year later. The song "Walking in Memphis" by Marc Cohn features Graceland prominently.

Other references include movies such as "Finding Graceland" Presley is the central character appearing as a bearer of spiritual messages.

There are even film titles ironically alluding to Presley's estate and the contemporary Elvis cult practiced there. For example, the movie "3000 Miles to Graceland" is about a group of criminals who plan to rob a casino during an international Elvis week, and to make it easier, they are all disguised as Elvis impersonators.

In the TV show Full House, Elvis fan Jesse Katsopolis talked about holding his wedding at Graceland.



*Engel, Matthew. "Still stuck on Elvis, fans exalt the King". "The Guardian" (London), August 17, 2002, p. 1.
*Harris, John. "Talking about Graceland". "The Guardian" (London), March 27, 2006.

External links

* [ Official website]
* [ O.T.I.S. Odd Things I've Seen]
* [ National Historic Landmark news release]
* [ History of Graceland With Home Movies and Pictures]

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