10 Things You Never Knew About Graceland: The Mysterious Forever Home Elvis Bought In The 1960s
Today, Elvis Presley's Graceland is the second most visited home in America, with tourists traveling from across the globe to see the place where Elvis hid away from the world. In 1957 this palatial estate was nothing more than a farm house. Elvis turned the plot of land into his own private getaway completely with themed rooms, a stable, and even an extremely well stocked kitchen. Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee is the Mecca for fans of rock ’n roll, but it’s also a fascinating place to visit for people who like to see weird stuff. By the end of Elvis’ life, he’d become a wealthy hermit who used his home to hide away from the world. It’s definitely worth checking out.
Elvis bought Graceland for his parents in 1957
On March 19, 1957, Elvis bought a two-story Colonial Revival house on 14 acres of land for $102,500. At the time the home was already known as “Graceland,” named for the owner’s aunt, Grace Toof. The Colonial home was all that was left of a cattle ranch west of Memphis and Elvis fell in love with it. He put down a deposit immediately, noting that the home would be the perfect place to provide privacy for himself and his family. The Presley family remodeled the home throughout April and moved into Graceland on May 16. At the time, the King wanted to paint the walls purple and put stars on the ceiling but his mother nixed the idea.
Elvis wanted every place he stayed to be like Graceland
Once Presley returned from Germany he continued to update the home with his father who was still living on the premises (his mother passed away in 1958). A swimming pool was added to his father’s bedroom, and the property was wired up with closed circuit TVs. In 1960 Elvis moved his father and stepmother out of the home and continued to renovate the home and add things that reflected his new status as superstar. Graceland wasn’t the only home where Elvis spent time, he was constantly traveling so he had houses and massive hotel rooms wherever he went but the mansion in Memphis was his home away from home. Graceland was set up to The King’s specifications and rumor has it that when he traveled he made sure that wherever he was staying was set up to parallel his home in Memphis.
Graceland’s kitchen was well stocked
Elvis was a man of peculiar appetites. It’s cliche to mention his love of fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches especially when he enjoyed so many more types of junk food. According to the LA Times there was a specific list of food and drink that had to be available at all times in case The King wanted a snack. Some of Presley’s specifics included:
- One case regular Pepsi
- At least six cans of biscuits
- Fresh banana pudding
- The ingredients for meatloaf
- Tubs of vanilla and chocolate ice cream
- Three packs of Doublemint and Juice Fruit gum
Anything else that Elvis wanted was obviously taken care of by his staff, and if he needed anything special while he was eating all he had to do was press a buzzer that he had installed on the bottom of his dining room table.
The many strange rooms of Graceland
By the 1970s Elvis had turned the entire home into one big man cave. What was once a simple home expanded into a place that catered to every whim of The King. After hearing that LBJ had three TVs so he could watch all three major networks Elvis decided that he needed the same thing. His downstairs “media room” had three TVs that were each tuned to a different station.
Aside from his trio of televisions, Presley had a wall of mirrors installed and multiple billiard rooms. The game room in his basement featured the same decor as that of an 18th century billiard room that Elvis saw in a painting. 350 yards of 100 percent cotton fabric was used to outfit the room with the specific look that Presley saw in the painting.
His pet chimp had a room
Of course Elvis had a pet chimpanzee. Named “Scatter,” his chimp was the scourge of Graceland. The King kept a stable of animals on his property, mostly horses, but he had a soft spot for Scatter. Elvis drove around with the chimp and even allowed him to roam the premises dressed up in goofy costumes. As cute as that sounds it was a pain the neck for every woman who visited the property. Scatter was known to lift their skirts and generally terrorize them. After a while Scatter’s menacing behavior became too much for Presley and he banished the chimp to a private, climate controlled room where he spent the rest of its life.
Nicolas Cage Is One Of The Few People Who've Been Allowed In Elvis' Room
Even though tours are allowed in Graceland no one has been able to take a peek into Presley's former bedroom, not only because the King was a private person, but because his estate doesn't want any of the ghouls in his fandom to show up and steal something.
The list of people who've been allowed in Presley's room is small, and one member of this elite group is none other than Nicolas Cage. At the time he was married to Lisa Maria Presley so he had the inside track on checking out the King's place. Cage paid a visit to Graceland on the 25th anniversary of the King's death, and he allegedly laid on Elvis' bed and tried on one of Presley's leather jacket. That being said, Cage has never commented on these reports.
Today, the soundproofed double doors to Presley's former bedroom are chained shut with only Lisa-Marie and Graceland's curator allowed inside.
He recorded in a tiki inspired room
As Presley added onto Graceland in the ‘60s he had an den constructed off of the kitchen that he decorated to look like a tiki bar, but a tiki bar with a fully functional waterfall. Fans have taken to calling this tropical space the “Jungle Room” but for Presley it was the den. In the last years of his life Presley recorded much of his final output in this room after RCA sent a mobile recording unit to his Memphis home. It turns out that the thick carpeting of the den was perfect for absorbing sound. Songs from these den sessions ended up on “Moody Blue,” a posthumously released album.
No one can visit the second floor
Since Elvis’ death in 1977 Graceland has become a memorial for fans and a museum to his legacy. Visitors can stroll the grounds and check out all of the weird stuff that Presley installed but only a few people are allowed to visit the second floor and it’s been like that since The King passed away. When Graceland was opened as a museum in 1982 the upstairs was kept off limits because Presley died in an upstairs bathroom and the owners didn’t want macabre fans visiting to see his death throne. The second floor has been left as it was when Presley passed away, with his office, bedroom and bathroom kept in immaculate condition.
Elvis is buried on the grounds
One of the many additions that Elvis made to Graceland is the meditation gardens, an area installed in 1964 that’s outfitted with plants, fountains and columns where Presley would sit and think. Initially Presley was buried at Memphis’ Forest Hill Cemetery but after grave robbers tried to steal his 900-pound, steel-lined, copper-plated coffin and hold the remains for ransom the body was moved to Graceland where Elvis was entombed in the meditation garden. Today, Presley lies next to his mother, his father, and a monument built for his stillborn twin brother. It’s fitting that The King’s final resting place is at the home he loved so much.