On June 26, 1957, Elvis spent his first night at home at Graceland. Fresh off the set of his third movie, “Jailhouse Rock” for MGM, Elvis arrived at the 10,250 square foot, tan limestone mansion set on 13.8 acres in Memphis, Tennessee three months after purchasing it in March for $102,500. The classical revival-style mansion with large white entrance columns had been built in 1939 by Ruth Moore and her husband, Dr. Thomas Moore. Ruth was the niece of Grace Toof, who was the daughter of S. C. Toof, founder of the Memphis commercial printing firm S.C. Toof & Co. S. C. had purchased the property originally and named it Graceland Farms, after his daughter, who gave Ruth a portion of the land holdings after her father’s death.
Elvis had extensive modifications done to the mansion before he moved in, including the addition of the famous waterfall-containing Jungle Room, a swimming pool, and a racquetball court. Over the years, Elvis expanded the mansion to almost 18,000 square feet, using a decorating philosophy that included swathes of white and red, accented with peacocks and leopard skin. Friends generously described the interior as “tacky”, while critics used such terms as cheap, “gaudy”, “garish”, “phony”, and “turn-of-the-century bordello” style taken from New Orleans’ French Quarter. “Tasteless white trash” was a general verdict.
Elvis had his revenge on the critics. Graceland is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated a National Historic Landmark. It is the second-most visited residence in the United States each year, after the White House. Elvis is buried at Graceland, along with his parents and grandmother, in an area he had built and named Meditation Garden.
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