Elvis Graceland Today
Elvis Graceland has a rich history dating back to the American Civil War. Be sure to view the rare 8mm home movie at the bottom of this page. It is from the 1940's and narrated by the only child who grew up in Graceland Mansion.
Graceland covering about 14 acres is perched on a hill overlooking the Memphis suburb of Whitehaven on U.S 51 about 8 miles south of downtown Memphis. The property was originally established during the American Civil War around 1863 by the publisher of the Memphis Daily Appeal, S.E. Toof. Later the land was named Graceland after Grace Toof, who was the aunt of Mrs. Ruth Moore. It was Ruth Moore and her husband Dr. Thomas Moore who developed the property and built Graceland Mansion in 1939.
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A Quick Overview of Graceland
• The Elvis Graceland mansion is actually a Southern colonial style mini-mansion. Built in 1939, the mansion originally covered about 10,000 square feet. It was later expanded to over 17,000 square feet.
• Built in 1939 by Dr. Thomas and Ruth Moore. The property was later sold by the couple's daughter, Ruth Marie Cobb. Today, under the terms of Elvis’ will, Graceland is owned by Lisa Marie Presley.
• In March 1957, Elvis bought Graceland for about US$102,000. At the time, it was being used for prayer services by the Graceland Christian Church. The property had already been on the market and sold for about $35,000 to the local YMCA. However, by Elvis was able to purchase Graceland as him home by upping the price.
• At the time of Elvis’s death, Graceland was said to be valued at around $350,000.
• The upkeep on the property was around $500,000 annually. Because of this, in June 1982, Priscilla Presley, the mother of Lisa Marie Presley opened the home to tourists.
• Today, over 700,000 people flock to Graceland to see the mansion and tour the grounds.
• From 1957 and for as long as they lived, Graceland was home to Elvis, his parents, and Minnie Mae Presley, Elvis’s maternal grandmother.
8mm Movies of Life at Graceland Before Elvis
1940’s Before Elvis Graceland
Ruth Moore Cobb born in 1927, was the only child who grew up in Graceland Mansion. And she was the first musician to live there.
Ruth was the only child of Dr. Thomas Moore, a prominent Memphis surgeon and her mother Ruth Brown Moore, former president of the Tennessee Association of Garden Clubs.
Graceland Mansion was built in 1939 when Ruth was 12 years old. She is the only teen who grew up in Graceland. Her father taught her to fish in the 25-acre manmade lake behind the mansion. And Dr. Moore taught her to shoot.
But Ruth's strongest interest was music. She played the piano. But she loved playing the harp. The living room of the mansion is where she took music lessons and practiced the harp.
Ruth became an accomplished harpist and toured America as part of a professional harp ensemble. She toured with Carlos Salzedo, one the world’s leading harpists. Salzedo remains one of the best harpists in history. Salzedo appears in one of the 8mm home movie clips below.
Later, from 1953 to 1973, she was a harpist for the Memphis Symphony Orchestra.
The photo was taken in January 2009 when Ruth Cobb at the time 82, and her husband, retired lawyer Charles Cobb, 86, talked about the history of Graceland.
Watch these old 8mm home movie clips showing Life at Graceland before it was known as Elvis Graceland. They are narrated by Ruth Cobb who shares her fond memories of growing up at Graceland.
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