The Elvis Presley House, popularly known as “Graceland”, is a mansion that sits on a 13.8-acre (5.6-hectare) estate in Memphis, Tennessee, United States. Built-in 1939, it was designed by architects Furbringer and Ehrman. As the name suggests, it was the official residence of the rock singer Elvis Presley, who was popularly known as, “The King of Rock and Roll”. Graceland is located at 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard in the Whitehaven neighbourhood, about 14 kilometres (9 miles) to the south of central Memphis and less than 6.4 kilometres (4 miles) to the north of the Mississippi border.
The mansion follows a “Neoclassical” style of architectural design. It may also be described as “Colonial Revival”. Architectural historian Jody Cook describes the mansion as “…a two-story, five-bay residence in the Classical Revival style” (Discover Walks Blog, 2022), with a side-facing gabled roof with asphalt shingles. ‘Two-story’ is expressed with reference to the building’s height. ‘Five-bay’ describes the width – five openings for doors and windows across the facade. Comprising a total of 23 rooms, including 8 bedrooms and bathrooms, Graceland spans 1,630.6 m2 (17,552 sq. ft.).
Four stone steps ascend to the projecting portico. Surmounting the portico lies a grand pediment decorated with dentils along the corniche and a small central oval window. The pediment rests gracefully on four Greek-influenced Corinthian columns. Ms Cook refers to these columns as the “Tower of the Winds”. The ground floor includes 12-over-12 double-hung windows set in arched openings with wooden panels above the windows and six-over-six double-hung windows on the first floor. This window is called 12-over-12 because there are 12 panes of glass in each sash. Both sashes are moveable, so it is called double-hung. All the architectural elements reflect a classically inspired Greek and Roman influence.
The doorway contains a full entablature, complete with triglyphs and metopes, engaged columns, and a broken arched pediment. Added in 1974, the transom and sidelights, placed adjacent to the main door, have intricate and vibrant stained glass. On the first floor above the main entrance, there is a glazed door with a shallow iron balcony.
The Building Plan
The original building’s floor plan resembled a cross, albeit the horizontal cross element is longer and wider than the vertical cross element. Upon entering through the entrance door, the mansion greets you with a large central hall. The living room is accessible from the centre hall’s right (south) side and the dining room is accessible from the hall’s left (north) side through tall, broad, elliptical-arched entrances. The arches are decorated with fluted pilasters and keystones and panelled reveals. At the end of the hall lies a stairway leading up to the first floor. The walls of the stairway are sprawled with large custom mirrors.
Living Room & Music Room
The interiors represent prominent styles of the 1960s to the early 1970s. From Polynesian tiki bars to Vegas-style Modern Baroque décor and even a ranch from a Western, references to everything that was popular (or spelt affluence) in America of the time made its way into Graceland Mansion (Architecture Digest Middle East, (n.d.)).
Behind an adjoined doorway is the Music Room, which is framed by vivid large peacocks set in stained glass. In the music room lies a white-toned baby grand piano and a 1950s-style TV.
Presley built a sizeable addition on the rear face of the mansion. This den was inspired by Presley’s favourite vacation destination – Hawaii. He selected Polynesian furniture to compliment a waterfall and decorated the space with plants. It is due to this very choice of interiors, the room earned the nickname “Jungle Room”. (Graceland, n.d.). According to the website, the ceiling and floor are both covered with shag carpet. The shag carpet provided soundproofing which led Presley to frequently use this area as a temporary recording studio.
The Trophy Building
Elvis also constructed a new structure, which is now known as the “Trophy Building”, in addition to the Jungle Room to the east. The Trophy Building connects to the music room on the south side of the home and opens to the patio and a kidney-shaped pool, both added in 1957. The main house and the new wing on the south side of the music room are connected by a little “breezeway” that is enclosed, and not open to the weather. Originally housing a slot car track, the additional wing was eventually transformed to contain all of Elvis Presley’s numerous awards, trophies, and accolades, along with memorabilia, guitars, jewellery, and stage costumes. In order to improve accessibility for tourists, a new entrance with plate-glass double doors was built at the northeast corner of the wing and is today known as the Trophy Building. The “Hall of Gold”, located in the Trophy Building, is a display area for Elvis Presley’s original gold and platinum albums and singles, with cases lining either side of the room. Presley’s numerous other accolades, plaques, and declarations are also shown in a variety of display cases, including his three Grammy Awards and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
The Swimming Pool
Adjacent to the Trophy Building is the kidney-shaped swimming pool and cut-stone patio, constructed in 1957. Kidney-shaped swimming pools were quite popular in the 1950s because of their aesthetic appeal, contemporary design, and practicality. The pool has a distinctive character thanks to its alluring curve lines. This unusual shape makes it easier for this feature to blend well within the surrounding landscapes.
The First Floor
The first floor of Graceland is still kept as a private house and is not accessible to the general public. Presley’s bedroom is located in the southwest corner, his dressing room and bathroom are in the northwest corner, his daughter Lisa Marie’s bedroom is in the northeast corner, and Presley’s office was located in the southeast corner.
Graceland Mansion As A Museum Today
Upon the unfortunate demise of Elvis Presley, his daughter and sole heir to his fortune formed a trust: “The Elvis Presley Trust”, with the mission of continuing the successful management of the estate. The mansion was opened to the public as a house museum on June 7, 1982. Upon the site being listed in the National Register of Historic Places on November 7, 1991, it single-handedly became the first site ever to be recognized for significance related to rock music. Eventually, Graceland was declared a National Historic Landmark on March 27, 2006. Graceland attracts over 650,000 visitors annually. (Graceland (n.d.))
Top 10 amazing facts about Elvis Presley’s Graceland Home – discover walks blog Discover Walks Blog % (2022) Discover Walks Blog. Available at: https://www.discoverwalks.com/blog/united-states/top-10-amazing-facts-about-elvis-presleys-graceland-home/.
Inside Elvis and Priscilla Presley’s graceland mansion that’s one of … (no date). Available at: Architecture Digest Middle East. https://www.admiddleeast.com/architecture-interiors/homes/priscilla-presley-explains-why-elvis-graceland-one-of-the-most-visited-home-in-america.
Mansion (no date) Graceland. Available at: https://www.graceland.com/mansion.
Tour of Graceland Mansion – Home of Elvis Presley in Memphis, Tennessee (2019) YouTube. YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLv8uK_IDSQ.
Elvis Presley’s Graceland in 2022. The most up to date tour on YouTube. For fans and non fans! (no date). Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ki4aB0W6tKw
(no date) Graceland, Memphis. Available at: http://art-now-and-then.blogspot.com/2014/07/graceland-memphis.html.