“I’m going to Graceland
For reasons I cannot explain
There’s some part of me wants to see
– Paul Simon
After Elvis Presley’s first house purchased in 1956 became too overrun with fans outside, he gave his parents a $100,000 budget to find a farm style house further outside of Memphis. The grounds of Graceland had been named after Grace, the daughter of Stephen C. Toof, founder of S.C. Toof & Co., the oldest commercial printing firm in Memphis, in the late 1800’s. But it wasn’t until 1939 that one of her descendants built the house now referred to as Graceland. Elvis bought the house and 13.8 acres of land for $102,500 in 1957 and lived there until his death in 1977. The house eventually became the property of his daughter Lisa Marie who still owns the estate.
When you enter from the front door the living room is immediately to your right with the music room at the far end. The stairs upstairs are in front of you. This area is closed. They did not want visitors to focus too much on the bathroom where Elvis died. To your left is the dining room and walking into the house a bit further you enter the kitchen with the “Jungle Room” in back and to your right the bedroom where Elvis’ parents stayed. A second set of stairs went upstairs beside the Jungle Room and stairs to the basement beneath.
At the kitchen, mirrored stairs lead down to the basement. To the left, under the living room, is the bright yellow TV room, to the right, under the dining room, is the billiard room, and a second set of stairs leading up to the far end of the Jungle Room.
Back yard and back buildings
After the Jungle Room the tour route heads out to the backyard. There’s a small swing set and a few small rooms, the first a set of offices, and the second an old smokehouse that Elvis later used as a room to shoot his guns into.
The night Elvis died, he had finished playing racquetball with a few friends here, played a few songs on the piano, Willie Nelson’s “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” and The Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody”, then went inside to go to bed. He was found later by his girlfriend in the bathroom. The official cause of death was heart failure but the more likely cause of death was polypharmacy. He had 14 different drugs in his system including large amounts of morphine. He was only 42, four years younger than I am now.
The trophy room.
Another room behind the mansion that used to house a large slot-car track had been converted into a showroom of different possessions of Elvis including photos, personal affects, his wedding suit, old furniture, etc.
Elvis was an avid fan of the police force. He was given a large number of police badges and had a collection of handguns. The state of Colorado made him an investigator of the Denver Organized Crime Strike Force and Elvis was known to install police lights on his cars and pull people over for fun.
The meditation garden.
Beside the pool is a fountain and small garden where both of Elvis’ parents, his grandmother, his grandson, and Elvis are buried, and a marker for his twin brother (Jessie Garon Presley) who died at birth. Elvis was originally buried next to his mother but after a failed break-in attempt his body was moved back to Graceland along with his mother, later to be joined by his father and last of all his grandmother who outlived them all. His grandson, Benjamin, son of Lisa Marie, committed suicide in July of 2020 at the age of 27.
Elvis’ car collection
Across the street from Graceland is now a large complex with tour parking, several museums and exhibits, and restaurants, including two showrooms of cars and two planes owned by Elvis. We had limited time so we only saw the cars and the planes but there were several other buildings to explore.
I didn’t take notes on the significance of all of the cars but some of them are recognizable.
Somewhat new to the collection are two of Elvis’ planes. A larger touring jet (The Lisa Marie) with several rooms including a dining room and full bedroom. The second plane was a small personal jet.
A banana and peanut butter sandwich fried in bacon fat.
There was also a cafeteria style restaurant in the complex with burgers and other sandwiches but I was particularly interested in the banana and peanut butter sandwich fried in bacon fat. Honestly I think I could have made a better one but I couldn’t pass it up. I also enjoyed the booth seat made from a car.