In the late 19th century, Stephen Toof named the property that would later be home to the second-most-visited home in the United States Graceland Farms in honor of his daughter, Grace Toof. The mansion was built in 1939 for Grace Toof's niece. After being in the family for generations, country music star Elvis Presley purchased the estate for over $100,000 in 1957 when he was 22-years old. After moving in, along with his parents and grandmother, he made many changes to the mansion and made it his own. Elvis’s life was lost too soon, but the mansion preserves his memory and is a museum today. Graceland is the second most toured home in the United States, next to the White House. The estate includes numerous exhibits that preserve the life and legacy of a man still known as "The King of Rock n Roll."
The front of the mansion in Memphis, Tennessee.
Joel Williamson, Elvis Presley: A Southern Life-Click the link below for more information about this book
Graceland lit up with Christmas lights
Elvis standing at the music gate that was custom designed and built for him. The gate was installed in 1957 shortly after Elvis moved into the home.
A birds eye view of the mansion showing the lavish design and pool.
This is the Mediation Garden that Elvis had built during 1964-1965. He used this area for contemplation; a place to reflect and have peace.
The grave of Elvis Presley located on the south side of the pool at Graceland. An eternal flame is lit at the head of Elvis' grave.
Original painting of Graceland. This is held within Graceland's Archives.
Backstory and Context
The mansion was built and originally owned by the Toof family. Stephen C. Toof was known as the owner and founder of S.C. Toof & Co. This was the oldest commercial printing firm in the town of Memphis. Stephen originally worked as a pressroom foreman for the Memphis Daily Appeal newspaper. Construction started on the home in 1939 and the Toof family lived here for many years.
Elvis Presley purchased the Graceland Mansion for $102,500 in 1957 when he was 22-years old. Before long, fans gathered around the mansion in hopes of meeting Elvis, much to the annoyance of his neighbors. Elvis paid for many expansions of the original property and it was soon surrounded by other structures and amenities like a swimming pool for Elvis’s father’s bedroom and a jukebox containing all of Elvis’s favorite tracks.
Elvis lived at the mansion for twenty years until meeting his untimely death on August 16, 1977. Elvis died in the bathroom at the young age of 42. This, in turn, lead to Vernon Presley, Elvis’s father, being the new owner of the home. After Vernon’s death, Elvis’s former wife, Priscilla, opened the mansion to the public due to the half a million dollars it was costing in taxes as well as maintenance. The house opened to the public on June 7, 1982, as a public museum. Turning the mansion into a tourist attraction was the right move to make considering it made the money back it took to restore the house within the first month it was open.
Since the tourist attraction opened in 1982, it has hosted more than twenty million visitors from every state as well as almost every country in the world. Around 700,000 visitors tour the home annually, making Graceland the second most-viewed house in the United States.
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2. Staff, B. (2017, April 29). 9 Facts on Elvis Presley's Graceland. Retrieved from https://www.biography.com/news/facts-about-elvis-graceland
3. Mead, T. (2019, March 14). Read This Before Visiting Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. Retrieved from https://www.housebeautiful.com/lifestyle/a26812706/elvis-presley-house-graceland-facts/
4. Elvis Presley's Graceland | 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://graceland.elvis.com.au/
5. Business, C. (2013, June 06). Inside Elvis Presley's Graceland. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRigdcVHSI8