The Reason Visitors Are Not Allowed Upstairs Of Graceland
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Any traveler visiting Memphis, Tennessee should make time to explore Graceland, the famed home of Elvis Presley. Second only to the White House in popularity among American residences, Graceland welcomes about 500,000 tourists a year.
Visitors to this Memphis site can choose to explore on their own with the use of an iPad or join a group tour. Whichever option they select, guests may explore the grounds, take a tour of the famous mansion, and even get a close-up look at Presley’s remarkable collection of automobiles. The second level of the mansion is one location that is left off of all tours, though.
Graceland is not only Elvis Presley’s ultimate resting place but also his former residence. Presley and his mother Gladys were reportedly transferred to Graceland because of security concerns at Forest Hill Cemetery, where Presley was originally interred.
Both Elvis Presley and his grandmother Minnie Mae Presley are interred at Graceland today, and Jessie, Presley’s stillborn twin brother, is honored with a monument. The monument that is Graceland honors the history of rock music in a meaningful way. But the question still stands: why is access to the second floor limited to visitors?
Elvis was not the original owner of Graceland
Even though Elvis Presley’s fame has grown to be inextricably linked with Graceland, it’s interesting to remember that he wasn’t the original owner of the site and, shockingly, he did not come up with the name “Graceland” as well.
Information from the Graceland website states that the famous 14-acre home was formerly a part of a much bigger 500-acre estate that belonged to the S.E. Toof household. The mansion was built in 1939, and its name came from a founding family member, whose initial name is probably not too difficult to figure out.
The mansion was constructed on the Toof family’s large property, as the Graceland website explains. This means that the historical estate is associated with them.
One of the Toof family’s notable members is honored by the name Graceland. The specifics of this relationship give Graceland’s history a fascinating depth that goes beyond its link to the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
The original owners of the historical mansion
The original owners of the house were Dr. Thomas Moore and Ruth Brown Moore, part of a well-known family in Memphis in their day. While they may not have been Graceland’s most famous residents, their daughter’s participation in the Memphis Symphony Orchestra as a harpist suggests that the family did start a trend of artists relocating there.
One of the most important characters in Graceland’s history, Elvis Presley, bought the property in 1957 at a relatively young age—roughly $102,000, or somewhat less than $1 million in today’s dollars.
Presley had a successful year prior to the acquisition, with several television appearances and strong record sales. He was making the switch to film at the time he secured Graceland; his second picture, Loving You, was already in production.
Presley made considerable additions to the estate during his lifetime, bringing its original 10,000 square feet of space at the time of acquisition up to roughly 17,000 square feet. As the King’s private residence, Graceland accommodated a plethora of friends and family, with additional lodging available on the grounds for overnight guests. Presley’s private quarters were placed on the second floor of the home.
Restricting entry into the second floor of Graceland
Following Elvis Presley’s untimely death in 1977 at the age of 42 due to cardiac arrest perhaps resulting from drug use, Graceland reopened to the public, with one significant exception. Since Graceland opened for public tours in 1982, there has been a particular area of the mansion that is not open to any guests, not even presidents and eminent international leaders.
Presley’s master suite at Graceland, located on the second floor, is included in this restricted area. This floor was restricted to a chosen few and closely guarded even throughout the singer’s lifetime. It was one of the few havens where the internationally recognized artist could go and find peace; only people close to him were allowed admission.
It has been purposeful to maintain the secrecy of Graceland’s second level, making sure that this personal area, which Elvis Presley once loved, is shielded from prying eyes.
The strict entry requirements go beyond what is expected of common visitors, highlighting the importance of this sanctuary as evidence of the singer’s demand for privacy despite his enormous celebrity.
One other crucial reason why the second floor is off-limits
One other important factor that has contributed to the restricted access to the second level of Graceland is the sad fact that Elvis passed away in the bathroom next to the master suite. Only a small number of people, including his ex-wife Priscilla, daughter Lisa Marie, and the property curator, are authorized access to the region as a result of this crucial aspect.
There is speculation that the interior of the room has been purposefully left as it was the moment Elvis Presley passed away. The main worry is that permitting tourists to enter this place could cause attention to divert from honoring the great singer’s life to being overly fixated on the site of his death.
The strict policy of denying admittance to the second floor has been maintained regularly, with hardly any requests being granted. There is one significant exception to this rule, though. Lisa Marie’s ex-husband and avid Elvis fan Nicolas Cage was given special clearance to investigate the King’s personal haven while they were married.
As someone who has publicly recognized Presley as one of his heroes, Cage stands out as one of the few cases in which the general ban on public access to this historically significant place was waived.