The History of Graceland, Elvis’ Iconic Memphis Hideaway

Elvis posing with one of his cars outside Graceland
Elvis Presley posing with one of his cars outside Graceland
Elvis Presley posing with one of his cars outside Graceland – Photo: Elvis Presley’s Graceland/Facebook

There are only a handful of private residences that have the name recognition and cultural significance of Graceland. It’s not the White House or Buckingham Palace, but as an architectural wonder and symbol of one of the planet’s most popular and innovative musicians, this Memphis mansion has certainly earned its standing amongst royalty.

Graceland is ubiquitous in Tennessee. In fact, the state lays claim to more than a few famous homesteads (Loretta Lynn’s Hurricane Mills mansion which appeared in the Oscar-winning 1980 film, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” and in which Lynn still lives to this day, is a two-and-a-half-hour drive away). Situated at the top of a hill, flanked by oaks, this two-story Colonial Revival-style property is truly iconic.

Graceland, the Home of Elvis Presley
Graceland, the Home of Elvis Presley – Photo: Katerina Papathanasiou /The Vale Magazine

Twenty-three rooms—nearly all of which house priceless Elvis Presley memorabilia—are fitted with garishly colored swaths of fabrics and ultra-dated furniture. And as such, the site is a popular spot for tourists, many of whom treat it less like a gaudy time capsule of 70s kitsch (which it absolutely is), and more like a shrine. After all, not only is Graceland home to the world’s largest and most comprehensive Elvis museum, it’s also the final resting place for Elvis and many of his loved ones.

sign outside Elvis' mansion
Sign outside Elvis’ mansion – Photo: Katerina Papathanasiou/The Vale Magazine

Just before Elvis died in 1977, he had appointed his father, Vernon, as executor and trustee of the mansion—and his daughter, Lisa Marie, as a beneficiary. Held in trust until her twenty-fifth birthday, Lisa Marie became (and remains) the sole owner of the property.

Elvis' Convair 880, "Lisa Marie," named after his daughter
Elvis’ Convair 880, “Lisa Marie,” named after his daughter, remains permanent fixture at Graceland – Photo: Katerina Papathanasiou/The Vale Magazine
Elvis Presley banners hanging outside Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee
Elvis Presley banners hang outside Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee – Photo: Katerina Papathanasiou/The Vale Magazine

For all of its legendary pomp and influence, Graceland was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991; it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006. Located at 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard in the opulent neighborhood of Whitehaven, Graceland receives about 500,000 visitors each year and has played host to more than 20 million guests since its public opening in 1982.