The house and farm that became Elvis Presley’s Graceland predated his purchase and residence
by almost two decades. In 1939, Ruth Brown Moore and her husband, Dr. Thomas D. Moore,
built a two-story Classical Revival residence and outbuildings on land that had been in her
family for almost 100 years. Mrs. Moore, the granddaughter of Stephen C. Toof, inherited
Toof’s farm from his daughter, her aunt Grace, who gave the property her name. The Moores
had a daughter, Ruth Marie, a musical prodigy who played the piano and the harp at age four. A
prominent Memphis architectural firm, Furbringer and Erhman, designed the house to showcase
Ruth Marie’s talent, and the large rooms across the front of the house “could be opened up to
seat five hundred people for a musical event.”1
Graceland is about ten miles south of downtown Memphis, Tennessee, on Elvis Presley
Boulevard (Highway 51 South). The property includes a large house with later additions, a
number of outbuildings, ancillary structures, and landscape features. The house and original
outbuildings were constructed in 1939 by the original owner. Elvis Presley added buildings,
structures, and other additions to the property after his purchase in March 1957, and there has
been some limited construction to accommodate visitors since the site opened to the public in
1982. The property includes twelve buildings, six structures, and two sites, and it has a high
degree of integrity; 18 of these resources contribute to the character of the property and two
resources are non-contributing. Graceland’s period of significance is 1957 to 1977.
The house (1939, No. 1 on site plan) was constructed at the top of a hill, almost at the center of
the property in a grove of oaks, with rolling pastures in front and behind it, and a western
exposure towards the Mississippi River. A curving driveway, bordered by a six-inch concrete
curb lined with small electric lights along the outside edge, approaches from the state highway at
the foot of the hill and forms a large loop that passes in front of the house and returns back down
the hill. A wall constructed of pink Alabama fieldstone bounds the highway frontage on the west
side, and runs along the side property lines almost to the site of the residence at the top of the
hill. A tall, wooden fence abuts the ends of the stone wall and surrounds the remainder of the
grounds. The entrance to the property at the northwest corner has brick walls on both sides of
the driveway, and a pair of large, curved, wrought iron gates, decorated with guitar players and
musical notes, that form an open music book when closed. There is a small brick guard house
(1971, No. 2 on site plan) just inside the large gates on the right side of the entrance, and a
shuttle bus stop (No. 3 on site plan) near the top of the driveway with a small shelter and
Contributing resources include the Graceland grounds and driveway with curb and lights (one
site, one structure), the wall along the front and side property lines with a pair of wrought iron
gates (one structure), and the guard house (one building). Non-contributing new construction on
the grounds to accommodate visitors includes a shelter at the shuttle bus stop (1983) and an
adjacent building for employees (1983). The open shelter has a gabled roof supported on four
columns to protect visitors from the elements, and the adjacent small wood-sided building has a
hipped roof (one non-contributing structure, one non-contributing building).
The house is a two-story, five bay residence in the Classical Revival style with a side-facing
gabled roof covered in asphalt shingles, a central two-story projecting pedimented portico, and
one-story wings on its north and south sides. There are two chimneys; one on the north exterior
side wall, and a second chimney that rises through the roof ridge on the south side of house. The
front and side facades of the central block are veneered with Tishomingo limestone from
Mississippi, and its rear wall is stuccoed, as are the one-story wings. Front facade fenestration at
the first 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 at the second floor. Four
stone steps ascend from the driveway to the two-story central projecting portico. Its pediment
has dentils, a central, small, leaded oval window, and rests on a full entablature supported by
pairs of columns with Tower of the Winds capitals. The columns at the corners of the portico are
matched by pilasters on the front facade. The doorway has a broken arched pediment, full
entablature (including triglyphs and metopes), and engaged columns. Its transom and sidelights
contain elaborate, colorful stained glass, a 1974 addition. Above the main entrance is a window
with a shallow iron balcony.
The one-story wing on the north end of the main block of the house is stuccoed and has two sixover-
six windows on its front (west) facade. Attached to this wing is an additional one-story
stuccoed wing that originally housed a four-car garage. This section was remodeled as an
apartment in the mid-1960s. The one-story wing on the south end is also stuccoed with a large
four-part, multi-paned window at the center of the front (west) facade, and two multi-paned glass
doors on the east facade.
The floor plan of the original building was basically in the shape of a cross, although the
horizontal cross element is longer and wider than the vertical element of the plan. The entrance
door opens into a wide and long central hall with a stair that rises to the second floor at the back,
left (north) end of the hall. There are tall, wide, elliptical-arched openings from the center hall
into the living room on its right (south) side and the dining room on its left (north) side. The
arches are ornamented with keystones and paneled reveals, and carried on fluted pilasters. The
width of these arched openings creates an open horizontal space across the front of the house.
The hall, living room, and dining room have classical moldings, including a course of dentil
blocks. Custom mirrors were added to the walls along the stair in 1974.
Custom mirrors were also added to the entire east wall of the living room in 1974, including the
fireplace on this wall. There is a large, rectangular opening between the living room and the
music room in the one-story wing to the south. Its transom and sidelights contain custom-made
stained glass by Laukuff Stained Glass of Memphis, another 1974 addition. The large sidelights
feature matching blue peacocks. The dining room has rounded curio cabinets in both corners at
the north end of the room, and black marble flooring in the center of the room, which is carpeted
around the perimeter.
There is a bedroom behind the living room, and the kitchen is located behind the dining room.
The original one-story wing on the north end of the residence includes a mechanical room,
bedroom, and bath. In the mid-1960s, Presley constructed a substantial addition (14 by 40 feet)
on the rear (east) facade of the house to serve as a den. It became known as the Jungle Room
because of its furnishings, as well as the built-in waterfall of cut fieldstone on its north wall. The
one-story section at the house’s north end was constructed as a four-car garage. It was
remodeled as an apartment in the mid-1960s, later used as offices, and currently provides
NPS Form 10-900 USDI/NPS NRHP Registration Form (Rev. 8-86) OMB No. 1024-0018
additional exhibit space for the house museum.
Presley remodeled two of the rooms in the basement in 1974, the TV room in the southwest
corner, and the pool room in the northwest corner. The TV room’s west wall is painted with a
lightning bolt and cloud motif in reference to the personal logo Elvis adopted in the 1970s, the
initials TCB, and a lightning bolt, for “taking care of business in a flash.” The south wall has
three built-in television sets, a stereo, and cabinets for Presley’s record collection. The walls and
ceiling of the pool room are covered with 350-400 yards of pleated cotton fabric.
Graceland’s second floor is still maintained as a private residence and is not open to the public.
It includes Presley’s bedroom at the southwest corner; his dressing room and bath room at the
northwest corner; his daughter, Lisa Marie’s bedroom in the northeast corner; and a bedroom in
the southeast corner that was Presley’s private personal office (one contributing building - the
house with original wings, garage, and mid-1960s den [Jungle Room] addition).
In the mid-1960s, Presley constructed a large building, or wing, on the south side of the main
house, between the music room in the original one-story wing and the swimming pool area. A
small “breezeway” (which is enclosed, not open to the elements) was constructed to connect the
main house to the new wing on the south side of the music room. The new wing initially housed
a slot car track but was later remodeled to house Elvis’s many awards, trophies, and other
honors, as well as memorabilia, guitars, jewelry, and stage costumes. It is now known as the
Trophy Building (No. 4 on site plan) and a new entrance with plate-glass double doors was
constructed at the northeast corner of the wing to provide better access for visitors. The Trophy
Building includes the Hall of Gold, an 80-foot-long room that showcases Elvis’s original gold
and platinum albums and singles in cases that line both sides of the Hall. There are also a
number of display cases that exhibit Presley’s many other awards, plaques, and proclamations,
including his three Grammy Awards and Lifetime Achievement Award from the National
Academy for the Recording Arts and Sciences (counted as one contributing building, due to size,
name, date, and location).
A kidney-shaped swimming pool and cut-stone patio, constructed in 1957, are adjacent to the
south side of the Trophy Building (No. 5 on site plan, one contributing structure). Before the site
opened to the public, there was a small bath house just north of the pool, at the southeast corner
of the Trophy Building. The bath house was remodeled to provide public restrooms with
The Meditation Garden, just south of the swimming pool area, was constructed 1964-1965 (No.
6 on site plan). It includes a circular pool containing circular fountain jets, and a semi-circular
pergola of Ionic columns on the south side of the pool with fountains. A stepped brick wall with
four arched openings containing stained-glass panels curves to follow the pergola and encloses
the Meditation Garden’s south end. Presley planned this garden as a private retreat. After his
death, security issues at Forest Hill Cemetery, his original burial site, led to his reburial in
October 1977 on the south side of the pool with fountains. An eternal flame encased in a
hexagonal glass container sits at the head of Presley’s grave. Presley’s mother Gladys was also
reburied in the Meditation Garden, and the large marble monument from the Presley family plot
at Forest Hill was relocated as well. Presley’s father Vernon was buried here in 1979, and his
grandmother Minnie May Presley followed in 1980 (garden, pool with fountains, pergola, brick
There are two small contributing buildings in this area of the grounds; a pump house for the pool
(1957, No. 7 on site plan) located between the Meditation Garden (No. 6) and the Racquetball
Building (No. 8), and a building now used for storage that was constructed as a barn (1939, No.
13 on site plan). It is located between the Racquetball Building and the horse barn (No. 14).
The Racquetball Building (1975, No. 8) is a large, two-story rectangular building (2,200 square
feet) with Dryvit walls and minimal, irregular fenestration. The interior includes a lounge area
and former racquetball court on the first floor, with dressing rooms and bathrooms on the second
floor. The racquetball court now serves as an additional exhibit area for Presley’s many awards,
as well as his stage costumes. The court’s entire north and east walls are covered in gold and
platinum records presented to the Elvis Presley Estate in August 1992 by RCA executives and
the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the largest single presentation of gold
and platinum awards ever made (one contributing building).
In the early 1960s, a carport (No. 9 on site plan) was constructed to shelter Presley’s many
classic cars and other vehicles (one contributing structure). The cars were relocated across the
street to Graceland Plaza in 1989 for display in the Elvis Presley Automobile Museum. A small,
one-story wood-framed building (No. 10), constructed in 1939, probably housed servants
originally. Presley’s father Vernon served as his business manager, and this building became his
office after Elvis bought Graceland (one contributing building). The smokehouse (1939, No. 11)
is a one-story, two-room brick structure with two heavy wooden doors on its front facade.
Presley used it for target practice and storage (one contributing structure).
There are three trailers (No. 12 on site plan) at the back of the property in the northeast corner.
The two double-wides and one regular sized trailer (late 1960s, 1974) provided housing for
friends and employees, and are currently used by Graceland employees (three contributing
buildings). The barn (1939, No. 14) is located near the rear property line in the southeast corner.
It is a wood-sided structure with gambrel roof, and still serves as a stable for the horses at
Graceland, which has several pastures bordered by white wooden fences in front of and behind
the residence (one contributing building).