A man’s home is his castle – and so Graceland is definitely the king’s castle.
But for about the first half of his life, Elvis and his family had many other home sweet homes. The family moved often in both Tupelo and Memphis, and lived in many different houses and apartment complexes. Before Elvis ever crossed the gates of Graceland, he called many other places in Memphis “home.”
Let’s take a look at where the Presley family lived in Memphis before their move to their beloved Graceland.
In November 1948, Elvis and his parents, Gladys and Vernon, packed up their 1937 Plymouth and drove about two hours northwest from Tupelo, Mississippi, to Memphis, Tennessee. Vernon and Gladys hoped for better job prospects in the bigger city, but work was often scarce or low-wage. And it wasn’t just the three of them; other family members, such as Elvis’ paternal grandmother, Minnie Mae, moved with the family, too.
The family’s first address in Memphis was 370 Washington and they paid $11/week in rent. The Presleys stayed there for less than a year, and then moved to 572 Poplar, where they stayed just a few months. Elvis entered Humes High School while living on Poplar, and he earned mostly B’s and C’s in school.
In September 1949, the family moved to 185 Winchester Street, which is the address of the Lauderdale Courts apartments. The family shared a two-bedroom, first-floor apartment for $35 a month.
Elvis and Buzzy Forbess and Farley Guy hang out at Lauderdale Courts in 1954. Elvis’ career was growing by the time this picture was taken.
The family stayed at Lauderdale Courts from September 1949 to January 1953, which was the longest time they lived at a single residence that wasn’t Graceland.
Elvis had many friends who lived in and around Lauderdale Courts. Some of those friends remember playing music with Elvis in and around the complex. Even after Elvis found fame, he still went back to Lauderdale Courts to see his friends who lived there.
The family packed up again and moved to 698 Saffarans, which was across the street from Humes High School, followed just a couple of months later with a move to 462 Alabama in April 1953. Elvis graduated from Humes High School while they lived on Alabama.
Next, the family moved to 2414 Lamar Avenue in 1954, followed by 1414 Getwell in late 1955.
There isn’t a lot of detail in Elvis biographies about these moves, because it’s during this time that his career takes off. He records his first acetates at Memphis Recording Service (now Sun Studio), his first single, “That’s All Right,” is played on the radio, and he performs at his first concerts. He also performed at the Grand Ole Opry, joined the Louisiana Hayride, signed with Col. Parker and left Sun for RCA.
As his popularity soared, Elvis needed a better home. He and his parents purchased the house at 1034 Audubon Drive in March 1956, and they lived there for a year.
The young star and his family paid $29,500 for the house – the first they ever owned in Memphis.
Elvis’ career skyrocketed in 1956. For the first time in his life, he had the money and the stability to truly buy his forever home, and so he did.
He purchased Graceland, located at 3764 Highway 51 South (now, of course, Elvis Presley Boulevard), in March 1957. After spending the first 22 years of his life moving from house to house, he was ready to settle down. When Elvis purchased Graceland, he didn’t just purchase a house; he purchased his own home sweet home, and with that, stability like he’d never experienced before.
Elvis never moved from Graceland – or Memphis, although his career took him across the country and he could’ve lived anywhere. In the 20 years he lived at Graceland, he took care of his home, regularly redecorated it and managed to turn it into both the first true rock star’s mansion and a cozy family home.
Elvis loved and was very proud of Graceland. Experience his home – from the beautiful living room to the unique Jungle Room to the dazzling Trophy Room – for yourself. Plan your trip to Graceland today.