Built in 1939, Stephen Toof built this house naming it after Stephen’s daughter, Grace Toof. After being in the family for generations, country music star Elvis Presley purchased the home 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. Still to this day, Graceland is open to the public allowing Elvis’s legacy to live on and never letting the world forget ‘The King.’
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. He would start construction on the home in 1939 and the Toof family would be living there for many years. It was nicknamed Graceland after Stephen’s daughter, Grace.
After his musical career took off, Elvis Presley purchased the Graceland Mansion for $102,500 in 1957 when he was 22-years old. Elvis was very popular considering he made multiple appearances on late night talk shows and made some great memorable hits in his music. Fans would even gather around his mansion in order to meet the artist himself much to the annoyance of his neighbors. Elvis would pay for expansion upon expansion of the mansion and it would soon be surrounded by other properties. There was many luxuries added 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. This has increased the tourism in Memphis to over 700,000 visitors annually. Graceland is the second most viewed house in the United States. Graceland encompasses the life of Elvis Presley and allows his legacy to live on through the exhibits of his life and what it consisted of.
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