Elvis’s Graceland the Second Most Visited Home in America
Graceland is a mansion on a 13.8-acre (5.6-hectare) estate in Memphis, Tennessee, United States, which was once owned by popular singer and actor Elvis Presley. His daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, inherited Graceland after his death in 1977.
Graceland is located at 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard in the Whitehaven neighborhood, about nine miles (14 kilometers) south of central Memphis and fewer than 6.4 km north of the Mississippi border.
It was opened to the public as a house museum on June 7, 1982. The site was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on November 7, 1991, becoming its first site recognized for significance related to rock and roll. Graceland was declared a National Historic Landmark on March 27, 2006, also a first for such a site.
Graceland is the most-visited privately owned home in the United States, attracting more than 650,000 visitors annually. It rivals in number of visitors such public attractions as Hearst Castle, now operated as a California state park, and the White House, home and office of the President of the United States in the capital.
Graceland Farms was originally owned by Stephen C. Toof, founder of S.C. Toof & Co., the oldest commercial printing firm in Memphis. He worked previously as the pressroom foreman of the Memphis newspaper, the Memphis Daily Appeal. The "grounds" (before the mansion was built in 1939) were named after Toof's daughter, Grace.
She inherited the farm/property from her father in 1894. After her death, the property was passed to her niece Ruth Moore, a Memphis socialite. Together with her husband, Thomas Moore, Ruth Moore commissioned construction of a 10,266-square-foot Colonial Revival style mansion in 1939. The house was designed by architects Furbringer and Ehrman.
After Elvis Presley began his musical career, he purchased a $40,000 home for himself and his family at 1034 Audubon Drive in Memphis. As his success and fame grew, especially after his appearances on television, the number of fans who would congregate outside the house multiplied. Presley's neighbors, although happy to have a celebrity living nearby, soon concluded that the constant gathering of fans and journalists was a nuisance.
In early 1957, Presley gave his parents, Vernon and Gladys Presley, a budget of $100,000 and asked them to find a "farmhouse"-like property to purchase, with buffer space around it. At the time, Graceland was located in southern Shelby County, several miles south of Memphis' main urban area. In later years, Memphis would expand with residential developments, resulting in Graceland being surrounded by other properties. Presley purchased Graceland on March 19, 1957, for the amount of $102,500.
Graceland is 17,552 square feet and has a total of 23 rooms, including eight bedrooms and bathrooms. To the right of the Entrance Hall, through an elliptical-arched opening with classical details, is the Living Room. The Living Room contains a 15-foot-long white couch against the wall overlooking the front yard. To the left are two white sofas, a china cabinet and a fireplace with a mirrored wall.
The painting that hangs in the room was Elvis' last Christmas present from his father, Vernon, and also displayed are photographs of Elvis' parents Vernon and Gladys, Elvis and Lisa Marie. Behind an adjoined doorway is the Music Room, framed by vivid large peacocks set in stained glass and contains a black baby grand piano and a 1950s style TV. And the third adjacent room is a bedroom that was occupied by Elvis' parents. The walls, carpet, dresser, and queen size bed are bright white with the bed draped in a velvet-looking dark purple bedspread along with an en-suite full bathroom done in pink.
To the left of the Entrance Hall, mirroring the Living Room, is the Dining Room. It features rounded curio cabinets in the north end corners and black marble flooring in the center with carpet around the perimeter. Connected to the Dining Room is the Kitchen that was not open to the public until 1995, as Elvis' aunt Delta used it until her death in 1993.
Constructed at the top of a hill, surrounded by rolling pastures and a grove of oak trees, Graceland is designed by the Memphis architectural firm, Furbringer and Erhmanis. It’s a two-story, five-bay residence in the Colonial Revival style, with a side-facing gabled roof covered in asphalt shingles, a central two-story projecting pedimented portico, and two one-story wings on the north and south sides.
Attached to the wing is an additional one-story stuccoed wing that originally housed a four-car garage. The mansion has two chimneys; one on the north side’s exterior wall, the second rising through the south side’s roof ridge. The central block’s front and side facades are veneered with tan Tishomingo limestone from Mississippi and its rear wall is stuccoed, as are the one-story wings.
The front facade fenestration on the first floor includes 9x9 double-hung windows set in arched openings with wooden panels above, and 6x6 double-hung windows on the second floor.