Sixty years ago this month, Elvis made one of his most important purchases: Graceland.
In the spring of 1957, Elvis was filming his second movie, “Loving You,” and his home address was on Audubon Drive in Memphis, Tennessee. He’d had a slew of hits on the charts, and he’d appeared on many national television shows – including, most recently, his third and final “Ed Sullivan Show” appearance.
Elvis had outgrown the nice home he enjoyed on Audubon. It was a good home, but his neighbors complained about the seemingly constant stream of fans and the family’s chickens, which lived in the yard (things that never bothered Elvis). Elvis considered buying every neighboring house, but instead, he and his parents decided to find a larger home out in the country.
On Saturday, March 16, 1957, Elvis’ parents, Gladys and Vernon, took a tour of Graceland, which was a bit more secluded than the Audubon home. It sat high up on a hill off Highway 51, not far from the Mississippi-Tennessee State line.
The Presleys fell in love with the home, which had been built in 1939 by the Toof family. Named Graceland after the owners’ aunt, Grace, the beautiful, two-story home was exactly what they were looking for in a home for their family. They called Elvis, who was filming in Hollywood, and told him the good news.
Elvis arrived in Memphis on March 18, and the next day, he put a $1,000 down payment on the home. The purchase was finalized on March 25 for $102,500.
Elvis paid $10,000 in cash, received $55,000 from the realty company for the Audubon Drive home and got a 25-year mortgage for the remainder. Elvis purchased the home as well as 13.8 acres of the surrounding farm land.
The Presley family had Graceland renovated before moving in, so Vernon, Gladys and Elvis’ grandmother didn’t move in until May 16. Elvis was filming “Jailhouse Rock” by this time, so he didn’t spend the first night there until June 26.
Before owning and living in Graceland, Elvis and his parents had lived in several homes and apartments. But with the purchase of Graceland, Elvis found his home. He lived there for the remainder of his life – another 22 years – and made it his own. He redecorated and expanded – Graceland was 10,266 square feet when he moved in, and it’s 17,552 square feet now – and he added unique touches like the lions out front (did you ever notice that they are not identical?) and those famous Graceland gates. Inside, the house is a cozy family home, with a welcoming living room, gorgeous music room and fabulous dining room.
Downstairs, the basement dazzles with the colorful and completely unique Pool Room, and the TV Room is a media room like no other, complete with a built-in jukebox that holds 100 singles, as well as a turntable and three TVs. Oh, and don’t forget the Jungle Room, complete with its own fountain.
No matter where Elvis traveled, he always came home to Graceland. He raised his family there, spent many memorable holidays there and enjoyed many past times on the grounds, like horseback riding and racquetball.
Since opening to the public in 1982, Graceland has welcomed more than 20 million guests from all over the world. Some of those have been celebrities, royalty and U.S. Presidents. Elvis’ home sweet home was named to the American National Register of Historic Places in 1991.
Want to know more?
Learn more about how you can get married or renew your vows at Graceland’s Chapel in the Woods.
And of course, the best way to celebrate Graceland is to experience it for yourself. The new exhibits in the Trophy Building at Graceland focus on the Presley family, as well as Graceland artifacts. In addition to seeing Lisa Marie’s toys and the family Bible, you can also see red furnishings from Graceland’s red period, plus Elvis’ keys to Graceland. (And don’t forget to book your stay at The Guest House at Graceland!)
Get your tickets today, and we’ll see you soon at the king’s castle.