In the spring of 1957, when Elvis Presley was 22 years old and had just celebrated historic appearances and gold records, he purchased the 13.8-acre home and grounds of Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee for just over $100,000. At the time, Presley was working on his second move, "Loving You"—followed by "Jailhouse Rock"—but for the star, the mansion served as a home base. Here's a look inside Presley's infamous estate.
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Here's Presley in 1957, standing in front of his recent purchase. Once part of a farm owned by Stephen C. Toof (founder of S.C. Toof & Co., a commerical printing firm), the land had been named after Toof's daughter, Grace. After she passed, her niece and her husband built this Colonial Revival-style mansion in 1939. (Per Karal Ann Marling, Graceland, Harvard University Press, 1996). Presley, who'd been looking for more privacy, gave his parents Vernon and Gladys Presley a budget of $100,000 to find a farmhouse-style home with a buffer around it to distance himself from fans. (Per Adam Victor, The Elvis Encyclopedia Hardcover, Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd., 2008.) In March 1957, Presley purchased Graceland for $102,500.
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These musical gates were designed by Abe Saucer, custom-built by John Dillars, Jr. of Memphis Doors and installed at Graceland on April 22, 1957—a month after Presley had made the purchase. The house was renovated before Presley's parents first moved in on May 16. Because he was filming, Presley spent his first night at Graceland on June 26, 1957. (Per Elvis Australia, Elvis Presley Fan ClubElvis Australia, Elvis Presley Fan Club.)
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After Presley's mom Gladys died in 1958 at age 46, Presley's father Vernon married Dee Stanley in 1960, and the couple lived at Graceland for a time. Priscilla Beaulieu lived at Graceland for five years before she and Presley got married in Las Vegas on May 1, 1967 (per Tracy McVeigh, "Love me tender," archived February 18, 2021, at the Wayback Machine, The Observer, August 11, 2002). Their daughter Lisa Marie was born on February 1, 1968, and spent her early years on the estate. After her parents got divorced in 1972, she moved with her mother to California. However, Lisa Marie would often return to Graceland for holidays and to visit.
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On August 16, 1977, Presley died at age 42 in his bathroom at Graceland. Presley's grave (pictured here circa 1970) is located in the Meditation Garden next to the mansion—along with his family members'. Graceland was opened to the public as a tourist destination on June 7, 1982. Now, hundreds of thousands of people who visit Graceland each year, and Elvis Week, an annual procession through the estate and Elvis' grave, is held on the anniversary of his death.