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What is Graceland?

Graceland is not just the iconic home of Elvis Presley; it's a cultural landmark steeped in music history. Nestled in Memphis, Tennessee, this estate invites fans to step into the King of Rock 'n' Roll's life, showcasing his achievements and personal style. Curious about the stories behind the Jungle Room or Elvis's car collection? Join us as we explore the legend of Graceland.
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

One of the most visited homes in America is a Georgian Colonial-style mansion located in Memphis, Tennessee. Hundreds of thousands of people from all around the world come to pay homage to the mansion's last occupant, a singer and actor from nearby Tupelo, Mississippi named Elvis Aaron Presley. Presley's home and approximately 13 acres of land surrounding it comprise the tourist attraction known as Graceland. For many Presley fans, a trek to Graceland has become more of a religious pilgrimage than casual visit.

The Civil War-era publisher of a Memphis newspaper, a man named S.E. Toof, originally owned a 500 acre farm called Graceland in honor of his daughter, Grace Toof. Grace eventually inherited the property, but did not order the building of the elaborate mansion associated with Graceland today. Some of the original property was eventually sold off to developers, but Grace's niece Ruth and her physician husband Dr. Thomas Moore inherited a portion of the farmland. It was the Moores who ordered the construction of the Graceland mansion in 1937.

Elvis Presley has sold over 1 billion albums worldwide.
Elvis Presley has sold over 1 billion albums worldwide.

Twenty years later, a young entertainer looking for a more secluded location than his current home in East Memphis bought the Graceland property for approximately $100,000 (USD). Over time, Elvis Presley would move many of his family members into the mansion and add a significant amount of living space to the original building. A custom-made wrought iron gate decorated with two musical notes became the famous entrance to the Memphis estate still known as Graceland.

As Presley's fame and fortune grew, Graceland became more of a private refuge from the pressures of stardom. Although fans often camped out in front of the gates to catch a glimpse of their idol, Graceland did provide a sense of security for Elvis and his growing entourage of musicians, assistants, family members and a tight-knit group of friends informally known as the "Memphis Mafia". Elvis would frequently throw parties for cast members of his largely forgettable films, and eventually commissioned a recording studio for his basement.

Although Elvis Presley owned several other homes and apartments, Graceland remained his primary residence until the day he died in August of 1977. Several Presley family members continued to live in Graceland after his death, but his former wife Priscilla and their only daughter Lisa Marie eventually gained control over the Graceland estate and it was opened to the public in 1982. Elvis' fans could finally tour areas of the mansion such as the Jungle Room, complete with an indoor waterfall and tropical decor. Another room featured three television sets, while others reflected the tastes of Linda Thompson, one of Elvis Presley's last girlfriends.

Today, visitors to Graceland can visit a museum on the grounds which displays many of Elvis Presley's costumes, personal effects and musical awards. The second floor of the Graceland mansion, however, still remains strictly off-limits to the public and even most of the staff. Visitors who stand in the foyer of the first floor may not even realize they are standing directly beneath the bathroom where Elvis Presley died. The secrecy surrounding the second floor of Graceland has prompted more than a few conspiracy theories about Elvis' demise, but there are plenty of other exhibits to explore on the grounds of Graceland, including the memorial garden containing the final resting places of Elvis Presley and his parents.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Graceland and why is it significant?

Graceland is the former home of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock 'n' Roll, located in Memphis, Tennessee. It is significant because it serves as a museum and memorial to Elvis's life and career. Graceland is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is the second most-visited private home in the United States, after the White House, with over 500,000 visitors annually, according to Graceland's official website.

Can visitors tour the inside of Graceland?

Yes, visitors can tour the inside of Graceland. The mansion tour includes Elvis's living areas, his parents' bedroom, the kitchen, TV room, pool room, the famous Jungle Room, his trophy building, and the Racquetball Building. The tour also includes a visit to the Meditation Garden, where Elvis and members of his family are buried. Visitors can choose from various tour options, including multimedia iPad tours that provide an immersive experience.

What other attractions can be found at the Graceland estate?

Beyond the mansion itself, Graceland offers a complex called Elvis Presley's Memphis, which features a vast collection of Elvis memorabilia, including his cars, costumes, awards, and more. There's also the Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum, the largest and most comprehensive Elvis museum in the world. Additionally, visitors can see Elvis's custom jets, the Lisa Marie and Hound Dog II, according to the official Graceland website.

How much time should visitors allocate for a Graceland tour?

Visitors should allocate at least 2-3 hours for a basic tour of Graceland. However, for those who want to explore all the exhibits and attractions thoroughly, including Elvis Presley's Memphis entertainment complex, it is recommended to set aside at least half a day. Some visitors may choose to spend a full day to fully immerse themselves in the experience without feeling rushed.

Are there any special events held at Graceland?

Graceland hosts a variety of special events throughout the year, including the annual Elvis Week, which commemorates Elvis's life and legacy with concerts, panel discussions, and tributes. The holiday season is also a special time at Graceland, with the mansion and grounds decorated for Christmas, just as Elvis used to do. Details and dates for these events can be found on Graceland's official events calendar.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular WiseTour contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

Learn more...
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular WiseTour contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

anon137764

I think they should build another museum with the inside being an exact replica of the upstairs. That way fans will be able to see what it looks like without the upstairs actually being opened.

anon58400

I understand why we should not go in the 2nd floor. It's for the King -- let it be. Christina

pollick

Surviving members of the Presley family still reserve the right to maintain the second floor of Graceland as private property. A general pilgrimage to Graceland does not have to include access to the bathroom where Elvis Presley spent his final moments.

anon10785

why can't anyone go in the 2nd floor?

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    • Elvis Presley has sold over 1 billion albums worldwide.
      Elvis Presley has sold over 1 billion albums worldwide.