He was the king of rock 'n' roll, and Elvis Presley had a palace to match. Thankfully for fans, that mansion is open to the public for tours. It's called Graceland, and seeing it is a pilgrimage for fans that comes with a history lesson about Elvis' life and achievements.
Graceland is a colonial-style brick mansion located in Memphis, Tennessee, the city where Elvis spent his teen years and attended high school. Large iron gates with music notes and an outline of Elvis welcome you onto the property. But the home was built in 1939, long before Elvis bought it. Graceland was named for the original owner's aunt, and because of its grandeur the home was well-known in the Memphis community. What a thrill it must have been for 22-year-old Elvis, who came from humble beginnings, to be able to buy Graceland and the 14 acres of land that make up the estate. That purchase happened in 1957 for $102,500.
Graceland has 23 rooms, and Elvis had a hand in decorating them. The style is a garish 1970s' opulence. Each room has a theme, such as the white living room and gold music room, which are separated by dividing walls with insets of large stained-glass peacocks. One of the most famous rooms is Elvis' rec room, which is nicknamed the jungle room. It's decked out with green shag carpeting, dark paneling, a water feature and a Polynesian theme because Elvis loved Hawaii.
Graceland was initially home to Elvis and his parents Vernon and Gladys. Eventually Elvis' wife Priscilla and daughter Lisa Marie joined him in the mansion, as did Elvis' two other fiancees after his divorce from Priscilla. Vernon Presley's second wife Dee lived there as well. Elvis' many friends and constant companions also stayed at the home. At the end of his life, Elvis invited his aunt Delta Biggs to live in Graceland, which she did even after it opened to the public for tours.
Graceland is listed on the National Register of Historic places and is open to the public, but visitors are allowed only in the downstairs area. The upstairs remains off limits out of respect to the family, since this is where Elvis died. Visitors take a self-guided tour narrated by Lisa Marie Presley. They are allowed to walk by the rooms and peek inside only. Visitors are also invited to tour the King's car museum, the trophy building, memorabilia museum, airplanes and the meditation garden where Elvis and his family members are buried.
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