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Graceland

Memphis, Tennessee

Built 1939-40, for Ruth Frazer Brown (1893-1974) and her husband Dr Thomas David Moore (1894-1958). On her mother's side, Ruth was a niece of Grace Toof (1860-1928) for whom the property was given it's iconic name. Today, the Graceland Mansion attracts 600,000 visitors a year having become one of the most recognized houses in the world, being the beloved home and final resting place of the "King of Rock n' Roll" Elvis Presley (1935-1977). Did you, or is anyone you are related to, live or work here? If so, "Connect" and become a part of Graceland's history!
Graceland was originally a 500-acre farm first deeded during the Civil War to Stephen Cummings Toof Jr. (1834-1910). A native of Montreal, Toof came to Memphis in 1852 and soon afterwards established his own successful commercial printing firm, S.C. Toof & Co. It was his second daughter, Grace Toof (1860-1928), who inherited the farm, using it for parties and family outings until her death in 1928. In her will, Grace subdivided the estate between the three children of her younger sister, Ruth Toof (1871-1958), by Ruth's late husband, Battle Manassas Brown (1861-1955)

It was the Brown's eldest daughter, Ruth Frazer Brown (1893-1974), who inherited the 158-acres of land on which she and her husband, Dr Moore, built Graceland Farms; so named in honor of Ruth's deceased spinster aunt, Grace. Educated in Massachusetts at Wellesley College and Smith College, Mrs Moore was a well-known Memphis socialite and her husband was Professor of Urology at the University of Tennessee.

The 10,266 square foot mansion Ruth and her husband built on their cattle farm with several outbuildings was in the Colonial-Revival style, designed by the Memphis architects Furbringer & Ehrman. It stood over two stories, constructed of tan limestone with a white, two-story timber portico supported by four columns over the front entrance. 

Interestingly, Graceland was specifically designed with large rooms at the front to capacitate more than 500 people for musical events: the Moores only daughter, Ruth Marie Moore (1926-2013), had learnt to play both the harp and the piano by the age of four and was something of a musical prodigy. A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, she went on to have a successful career as a harpist with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. 

In 1952, the Moores divorced and five years later Ruth Marie, who was by that time married to Charles Pittman Cobb (1922-2010), put her parents' house up for sale. In March 1957, just one year after the successful release of his debut album, Elvis asked his parents to find him a sizeable home with suitable privacy - primarily for his mother - and they brought him to see Graceland that was then still very much in a rural setting, ten miles south of Memphis. By the end of the month, the house and it's accompanying 13.8 acres of land was his for $102,500 and by April he, his parents and beloved grandmother, Minnie, were happily ensconced in their new home. 

Elvis immediately set about renovating and extending his cherished new home that would soon cover 17,552 square feet, spending roughly half a million dollars on it in his first year there. The iron music gates at the entrance of the property were one of the first additions. The Moore's music room was converted into the living room, as Elvis preferred to play on the sun porch with its double French doors opened on both sides of the house. The basement that had previously been a library was converted to accommodate the pool room where he also recorded, and a TV room where he watched three televisions at once. 

By the 1960s, the more iconic rooms and features were added: "The Meditation Garden" and it's fountain where Elvis, his parents and grandmother are laid to rest; the "Jungle Room" that was a 40 by 14 foot den where he also made recordings - complete with its own waterfall and leopard-skin furnishings; the "Trophy Room" displays some of his stage outfits, his wedding tuxedo, his Grammy Awards and the wedding dress of his wife, Priscilla Ann Wagner. There is also a room with a scale model of the house where he was born in Tupelo, Mississippi; a stable of horses and his racquetball court. His private jets, famous pink Cadillac and other cars are kept across the street from the main house. 

In the years after Elvis's death, taxes and debts on Graceland amounted to some $500,000 and the family came close to selling. But, taking note of how other historic houses were run, Priscilla Presley made a shrewd move by employing Jack Soden to turn Graceland's fortunes around. In 1982, the mansion opened its doors to the public and the Presleys haven't looked back since. As the only child and sole heir to her father's estate, Lisa Marie Presley is the present owner of Graceland, acting as both Chairwoman and President of Elvis Presley Enterprises. 

In 1991, Graceland became the first site related to rock and roll to be entered on to the National Register of Historic Places, and in 2006 it was designated a National Historic Landmark. 

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