Graceland is a 13.8-acre estate, located in Memphis, Tennessee, famous for being the private residence of Elvis Presley.
Many visitors assume that Elvis himself ordered its construction, but although he was fond of the property he did not build it. Graceland was part of a Hereford cattle farm in Whitehaven and was owned by the descendants of S.C. Toof, the founder of one of the oldest printing company in the Memphis area.
The family owned 480 acres, of which 323 acres belonged to Grace Toof Ward in 1894, one of the Toof’s daughters, after whom the property got its name.
In 1939, Grace’s sister, Ruth Toof Brown and her husband, Battle Manassas Brown owned the land. They made a present to their daughter Ruth, parcel of 158 acres in the northern section.
In 1934-1941, Ruth and her husband, Dr. Thomas D. Moore, built a Southern Colonial house on the land and named it Graceland. Their new home was built by Robert Crouch and designed by the Memphis architectural firm of Furbringer and Ehrman.
Their daughter Ruth Marie Moore Cobb who would become a famous harpist with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra was growing up in Graceland. The couple divorced in 1952 and Mrs. Moore moved out and gave permission to a local church group to use it for their gatherings.
Meanwhile, the young and famous Mr. Presley, who had previously lived for a year on Audubon Drive, now in East Memphis, was looking for a residence that afforded more privacy.
Elvis’ parents, Gladys and Vernon, once seeing the lovely white-column mansion, fell in love with it. In 1957, Ruth Marie Moore sold the property to Elvis Presley for the amount of $102,500.
Graceland was renovated by the Presley’s before they moved in. The first thing that Elvis changed were the gates. The musical-themed iron gates are probably one of his home’s most iconic features. The two-story mansion is constructed of Tennessee limestone, surrounded by stone walls and has 23 rooms, including eight bedrooms and bathrooms. The columns are of the most decorative Corinthian order.
The front room is decorated with Louis XIV furniture and a white marble fireplace. For his room, Elvis wanted the darkest blue and a mirror that covers one side of the room. For the dining, living, and sun rooms he requested purple walls with white corduroy drapes. However, his mother Gladys wasn’t enthusiastic, as she preferred the lighter colors.
Elvis also built the Jungle Room. It has a green shag carpet, an indoor rock waterfall and lacquered wood furniture. The Jungle Room also became The King’s recording studio, where he recorded his final two albums. In addition, he built a swimming pool and expanded the existing four-car garage.
Presley expanded the house and constructed a large wing on the south side of the main house, that now is known as the Trophy building, where many of his achievements are displayed. He modified the garden and turned it into a Meditation garden.
That same garden is his final resting place. His parents, and grandmother, Minnie Mae Hood Presley are also buried there, and a small stone is placed in honor of Elvis’ twin brother Jesse Garon who died at birth.
After Presley’s death, his daughter Lisa Marie Presley inherited Graceland. On June 30, 2006, in Graceland, the U.S. President George W. Bush hosted a meeting with the great fan of Elvis, the Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. On march 27, 2006, Graceland was proclaimed a National Historic Landmark and is the second most visited house in America, right after the White House.