The Magic of Graceland

Jul 27, 2014 | 8:00 AM

Elvis Strumming in Graceland 1957

Elvis Presley strumming a tune inside Graceland, 1957

 

On March 19, 1957, singer, actor, and all-around cultural phenomenon Elvis Presley made a totally rockin’ real estate purchase for his folks by buying them Graceland, a 14-acre mansion just outside of Memphis for what was, back then, a mammoth price:  $102,500.

 

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The King surveying his kingdom in the late 1950s

 

I just read that some are a little bent out of shape that the two private planes owned by Elvis might soon be leaving the building. These jets, the Lisa Marie and Hound Dog II have been on the property for the past 30 years, making tourists feel personally connected to the Presley family as they get a vicarious glimpse into his lavish lifestyle.

 

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Elvis de-boarding with actress Linda Thompson in 1976

 

I am certainly a big fan of Mr. Presley and wouldn’t be against joining the other 600,000 annual visitors on a good ol’ summer pilgrimage to this magical musical fantasy land. But with official Elvis Week coming up at the beginning of August, along with the anniversary of Elvis’ death on August 16th, I know I’m not alone when I still wonder, “What is all the fuss about Graceland?”

 

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Elvis signing autographs for members of one of his first official fan clubs

 

The home was initially solely occupied by his parents, as The King of Rock n’ Roll was living more modestly inside the Memphis city limits. But as his popularity exploded, crazed fans started to congregate outside his abode, and he realized it was time for him to retreat to a more private location.

 

The value of this legendary estate — well-loved (but also sometimes slammed) for being slathered in extravagant ’70s decor and Kingly quirk — has gone through the roof since it was purchased. Elvis Presley Enterprises, the company that now cares for the property said a few years ago that they can’t even appraise it: “We don’t have a value on the home because everything here is priceless.”

 

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A view of Graceland’s glorious living room

 

Graceland is the third-most visited private residence in the U.S., behind only the White House and George Washington’s Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. Visitors “oooh” and “ahhh” over that gorgeous gate in the shape of a book of sheet music. And the silouhette of Elvis only adds to their delight! I can hardly imagine how they swooned when the real deal was standing there!

 

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Presley, striking a pose in front of his gates in the early 1960s

 

Every Elvis fanatic has obsessed over the many loves of his life, but the one we’ve just kept on loving is ex-wife Priscilla, who also has a very special connection to Graceland. The beautiful Priscilla Beaulieus caused a bit of a controversy when she dropped out of Catholic school and moved into the mansion against her parents’ (and the “tsk tsk”-ing public’s) wishes at 18-years old, a full four years before the couple wed in 1967.

 

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The Happy Couple on May 1, 1967

 

Though the pair divorced in 1972, Priscilla stayed close to her former fella and his homestead. The entirety of Elvis’ fortune went to daughter Lisa Marie after his death, who appointed her mama as the official head of Elvis Presley Enterprises. She opened Graceland as a public museum in June, 1982 and still oversees it today.

 

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Lisa Marie, Elvis, and Priscilla Presley at home in 1971

 

There are so many fascinating fun facts about Graceland that it’s sure to make your head spin! Before I get “all shook up,” I want to turn it over to you, whether you’ve been to this Memphis music mecca or not:  Why the heck is Graceland such a big deal? Let’s talk about it!

 

xoxo, as ever,

 

Isabel

One thought on “The Magic of Graceland”

  1. Bruce Thomas     Reply

    For some odd reason, my youngest daughter is really into Elvis (Never listened to it in my house until she brought it in somehow; she was surrounded by Beatles, Who, and other British Invasion bands and 80s hair like Van Halen, Def Leppard, Scorpions, Poison etc). We took an classic Americana vacation and road tripped to Memphis. It is truly a magical place. We started at Graceland and the various museums around the property. We also spent a lot of time on Bealle catching the blues scene, toured the Gibson plant and the Rock museum across the street and drove by Sun records. I love the music vibe (plus the food) in that town. I didn’t get blue suede shoes at the Peabody during that time, but I did pick up a pair on sale last year. Can’t wait to take them back to their birthplace.

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