A trip to Memphis Tennessee is not complete without a visit to Graceland. Most Americans know Graceland is the home to the king of rock and roll, Elvis Presley. Fans of the King and Rock n Roll history buffs will love walking around Elvis’s home. Here they can learn about his life and career through stories and commentary by Elvis and his daughter Lisa Marie. On the site, headphones narrate notable events of Elvis’s life and introduce relics adorning the rooms and corridors.
Graceland is a 13.8-acre estate. Located at 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard in the vast Whitehaven community, about nine miles from downtown and less than four North from the Mississippi border, the estate still stands proudly. Graceland opened to the public on June 7, 1982, for fans to come and pay their respects. Later, the National Register of Historic Places listed the location on November 7, 1991. The house was declared a National Historic Landmark on March 27, 2006. To this day Graceland is one of the most-visited private homes in America with over 65,000 visitors a year.
Design and Decor
The Memphis Architectural Firm Furbringer and Erhmanis created Graceland. The firm designed the two-story house in the Colonial Revival style with a side facing gable roof covered in asphalt shingles accumulating to 23 rooms including eight bedrooms and bathrooms. As we walked through, we noted the many TVs spread throughout the house. This apparent obsession with TVs would seem odd in a modern day house, but back when the house was built the number of TVs one had was a status symbol.
Probably one of the most iconic features of Graceland is the décor. People often criticize the décor, including Albert Goldman who stated: “nothing in the house is worth a dime.” Other critics include Professor Goldman, who said, “…it appears to have been lifted from some turn-of-the-century bordello down in the French Quarter of New Orleans.”
What struck us was how surprisingly modest the home was. Yes, the gaudy yellows popular in the 70s decorate most of the house, but it very much looks like a house that people could still conceivably live inside. It didn’t feel like a museum – it felt like a home.
Of course while in the Presley household, nobody should miss infamous Jungle Room, a family favorite due to the reminiscent atmosphere of Hawaii. Hawaii held a special place in Presley’s heart where he would often vacation, filmed and performed. The room features an indoor waterfall of cut field stone on the North wall. In 1976 Elvis converted the Jungle Room into a recording studio where he recorded the bulk of his final two albums, From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis Tennessee, and Moody Blue.
During the mid-60’s, Presley expanded the house and converted the new wing, which formerly housed a slot car track, into the Trophy Building. There, guests can see the many walls that display records, movie posters, and old-time memorabilia. They’ll also see more personal items, like the famous gold lame suit, Priscilla and Presley’s wedding outfits, and Lisa Marie’s baby clothes. As visitors continue through the Trophy Room, it winds down through a display of his 68 Comeback. The Comeback features his leather suit, copies of his movie script, costumes he wore in his movies, and a few of his trademark jumpsuits.
Elvis died on the estate on August 16, 1977. Those wishing to pay respects the King then can take a final stop at the Meditation Room. Architect Bernard Grenadier designed this room. Elvis used the Meditation Room to reflect on any problems or situations during his life. It is also the final resting place of Elvis, his parents, his grandmother, and his stillborn twin brother.
For many of the hundreds of thousands of people who visit Graceland each year, the tour takes on a quasi-religious perspective. They may plan for years to journey to the home of the ‘King’ of rock and roll. Some visitors pray, kneel, or quietly sing one of Elvis’s favorite hymns. Graffiti covers the brick wall enclosing the mansion’s grounds, expressing admiration for the singer as well as petitions for help and thanks for favors granted.
Autism Travel Tips:
- The house has some uneven terrain. Because of this, wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes as you tour the place.
- We recommend this location mostly for older kids, especially kids interested in music history.
- Visitors to Graceland have several options for tours, depending on their wants and needs. You can even get a VIP tour, a three-hour experience that allows you to skip most lines with an all day ticket.
- An iPad “guides” most of the tours, something that many technologically inclined kids will enjoy. The iPad guide also allows you to walk around the mansion at your own pace, which is another bonus for families.