10 Secrets About Graceland You Won't Learn On The Guided Tour

Celebrity | Music

10 Secrets About Graceland You Won't Learn On The Guided Tour

Modern Screen / Terry Waggoner - Wikimedia

For music fans, there are few places on earth as important as Graceland, Elvis Presley's famous mansion in Memphis, Tennessee.

Not only did the rock legend and movie star live in the iconic home, it was also the place of his tragic, early death in 1977.

The King's legend still lives on, and to this day tourists flock to see his incredible home.

But there are a few secrets about Graceland that even the biggest Elvis fans don't know.

1. Humble Beginnings

Graceland was originally a family farm.Memphis Magazine

Before the King set his sights on Graceland, it wasn't nearly as impressive.

The 13.8 acre property was used as grazing land for cattle, and free space for church picnics, until a large home was finally built there in 1939 by a local doctor.

An aerial photo of Graceland before Elvis bought it.Memphis Magazine

He was the one to christen the property "Graceland," after it's original owner and his wife's aunt, Grace Toof.

Presley told his parents to look for a quiet place to live in the late '50s, and they were the ones who put down the $1,000 down payment on the home.

2. Welcome Home, King

Elvis Presley
Elvis poses in front of the Graceland mansion.WHMP

All told, Presley paid $102,500 for Graceland, but would spend hundreds of thousands more updating the property.

Originally 10,000 square feet, by the time Presley had finished work on the home it stretched to more than 17,000.

Presley's shooting range.50 States or Less

The final version featured eight beds and eight baths, along with amenities like a backyard pool, horse barn, and indoor shooting range.

3. Presley's Pantry

The Graceland Dining Room.Thomas Machnitzki - Wikimedia

You can tell from Presley's favorite recipes that he had a king-sized appetite.

The weekly grocery bill for Graceland was reportedly around $500, and included this list of necessities to be stocked "at all times, every day":

  • One case regular Pepsi
  • One case orange drink
  • At least six cans of biscuits
  • Cans of sauerkraut
  • Wieners
  • Banana pudding (cooked fresh nightly)
  • Ingredients for meatloaf and sauce
  • Brownies
  • Ice cream (vanilla and chocolate)
  • Shredded coconut
  • Fudge cookies
  • Gum (Spearmint, Doublemint, Juicy Fruit "“three each)

Presley's final meal (before a presumed heart attack) was a "midnight snack" that included four scoops of ice cream and six chocolate chip cookies.

4. The Jungle Room

The Jungle RoomEgghead06 - Wikimedia

Presley's unique taste meant his house was filled with eclectic "themed" rooms. The most bizarre of all was the legendary Jungle Room.

It includes an indoor waterfall, green "grass" carpeting, and plenty of faux-Polynesian idols.

The room actually had an interesting history: it was converted into a private studio, where Presley recorded his final two albums - From Elvis Presley Boulevard and the posthumous Moody Blue.

Supposedly, the ultra-thick pile carpeting was great for the acoustics.

5. Click, Click, Bang

Elvis was obviously a TV fan, because his home is full of small 25-inch models.

Presley's TV room.RoninMC - Wikimedia

But the singer had a unique way of "changing the channel" on shows he didn't like.

The story goes that when Robert Goulet started singing on TV, Presley fired a bullet into his set.

"There was nothing Elvis had against Robert Goulet. They were friends," said Graceland spokesperson Kevin Kern.

One of the TVs that Elvis shot.Brandon Dill - Reuters

"But Elvis just shot out things on a random basis."

In fact, Goulet met Elvis and says he was perfectly charming - the man just loved shooting TVs.

Presley reportedly had a "graveyard" of demolished sets behind the house, and thought his "joke" was a hoot.

6. The Place Was A Real Zoo

Elvis was known for keeping a few hound dogs in his time, and there's a display of old leashes from late Presley family pets in the mansion.

Along with dogs, Elvis also kept peacocks, pigs, and chickens, who were famous for destroying cars by pecking at their own reflections.

But Presley's most famous pet was Scatter, a chimpanzee who had his own climate-controlled room in Graceland.

Presley and Scatter also shared a love for practical jokes.

Scatter would yank down pants and skirts, while Elvis would drive into Memphis with Scatter on his lap and duck - making it look like the chimp was the one driving.

7. Life After Elvis

A scene from Presley's Graceland funeral.eSnarf

The King passed away in 1977, after suffering a heart attack likely complicated by drug use in the home's second floor bathroom.

Presley's funeral was held inside the house, with his coffin lying in state before the Music Room's stained glass window.

Presley's memorial service was held in front of the music room.Thomas Machnitzki - Wikimedia

Since his death, the entire second floor has been closed off to everyone but his ex-wife Priscilla, daughter Lisa Marie, and Graceland's curators.

Other parts of the house, including the kitchen, were closed to the public until 1993 because someone was still living in Graceland.

Presley's aunt Delta lived in the home until her death in 1993.The Finder - YouTube

Presley invited his aunt, Delta, to move in with him after her husband died, and she shared space with hundreds of thousands of tourists during the 11 years their stays overlapped.

8. The Presley Family Plots

There are four Presley graves at Graceland - but five markers.Thomas Machnitzki - Wikimedia

Most people think there are four monuments in Graceland's Meditation Garden, but there are actually five.

Presley, his parents Gladys and Vernon, and his grandmother Minnie Mae, are all buried next to the mansion.

A smaller gravestone pays tribute to Presley's stillborn twin brother, Jesse.

The singer's coffin was actually moved from a nearby cemetery after it was targeted by grave robbers.

It's long been rumored that Vernon himself arranged the attempted robbery of his son's remains. Zoning laws that prevented Presley from being buried at home were waved after the security breach.

9. Elvis, Is That You?

This sighting of "Elvis" Turned out to be a groundskeeper.WRKR

With 650,000 visitors each year, Graceland is the second-most visited home in America (only the White House gets more tourists).

In 2015, the site marked its 20 millionth visitor since opening to the public in 1982.

Despite the crowds of people that visit every day, a few of the King's guests have stood out.

Every few months, "suspicious" footage of portly, white-haired men visiting Graceland are offered up as proof that Elvis lives, and walks among us.

For the amateur sleuths out there: the King of Rock 'n Roll would be 83 if he was still with us.

10. Odds And Ends

The staff at Graceland have shared a few of the quirky additions and details that the public doesn't see on a typical tour of the famous home.

Here's an odd one: Elvis had a button installed on his dining room table that called his kitchen staff to the table. "Another peanut butter-banana-bacon sandwich, please!"

Elvis also owned many pink Cadillacs throughout his life - they had a bad habit of being destroyed.

The one on display in Graceland's car museum has a hidden 'E' embroidered into the floor.

An early car phone, from on of Presley's limousines.Graceland

Another detail from Presley's cars: he had a pretty advanced Motorola car phone in his Mercedes limo, which was featured in Elvis on Tour.

Are you still an Elvis fan after all these years?

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