When my dad and I decided to meet in Memphis, the first thing we planned was a tour of Graceland. I wouldn't call myself a diehard Elvis fan, but I do appreciate the worldwide phenomenon that is Elvis. I love historic home tours and I love 70s kitsch, so it's surprising that it took me so long to get to Graceland. My parents actually took me when I was 8 months old, but I don't remember—my dad jokingly said he thinks they left me in the car.
Graceland is a 17,552 square foot Colonial Revival house with 23 rooms, sitting on nearly 14 acres in Memphis. 650,000 people visit Graceland in a year, making it the second most-visited house in the US after the White House. The second floor—including Elvis's personal bedroom, office and the bathroom where he died—is not open to the public.
I was told that Graceland is "much smaller than you would expect" so many times that I wasn't at all disappointed. I would move into Graceland in a second and not change a single thing. My favorite room was the living room with its long white couch and peacock stained glass panels, and although Graceland is objectively a grand home, it still feels very personal and lived-in.
Graceland is a time capsule of the '70s and the details are fantastic—basket weave wall-coverings, poodle print wallpaper, corduroy drapes, TVs in every room, mirrored hallways, gold accents, and shag carpeting. It's hard to imagine a place where fur lampshades, log slice tables, grass green carpet and tiki statues could coexist, but in the Jungle Room it all somehow makes sense.
Elvis bought Graceland for $102,500 in 1957 as a gift for his parents, Gladys and Vernon. Elvis lived there until his death in 1977 and while he was initially buried in a local cemetery near his mother, Vernon Presley was able to reinter both of them in the Meditation Garden of Graceland and add a memorial marker for Elvis's twin brother, who was stillborn. Vernon and his mother Minnie Mae were buried beside Elvis and Gladys when they died in 1979 and 1980, respectively.
Graceland is much more than the house—the property includes a racquetball court, offices, a trophy room, shooting gallery, two planes and a new complex across the street with museums, gift shops and restaurants. Lisa Marie Presley has sole personal ownership of the mansion itself and her father's personal effects including costumes, wardrobe, awards, furniture and cars.
As much as I loved the house, my favorite part of Graceland was the surrounding wall and gates. In 2016, Graceland welcomed its 20 millionth visitor and it seems as if every single one of them has left a message or their name scrawled along the wall. Everyone knows about the jumpsuits and the sideburns and the drugs and the songs, but it's the fans that have ensured that Elvis will indeed live forever.
Elvis Presley Blvd
Memphis, TN 38116