Concealed Details Within Graceland That Even Elvis Fans Aren't Aware Of

There’s no celebrity home more iconic than Elvis Presley’s Graceland. Hundreds of thousands of fans flock through its doors every year, and you’d assume they’ve pored over every inch of the King’s home — even inside the bright yellow refrigerator! But no, there are still some areas of the home that remain off-limits to visitors. Let’s find out really lies within those immaculately preserved walls.

Purchasing Graceland

Elvis was only 22 years old when he decided to buy Graceland back in 1957. Located close to Memphis, Tennessee, its 14 acres set the star back a little over $100,000. The gorgeous house was to be a home for the King, his mother Gladys, father Vernon, and grandmother Minnie Mae.

Enter the Memphis Mafia

Over the years, it also became the home-away-from-home for members of Elvis’ famous entourage — the “Memphis Mafia.” During the 20 years Elvis lived in Graceland, numerous women — including Priscilla, of course —stayed there as well. And it would become a legendary location to his legions of fans.

Securing the family’s future

But when the King died in 1977, Vernon took control of Graceland. He passed on just two years later, and Priscilla became executor until Elvis’ daughter, Lisa Marie, came of age. It was Priscilla who secured a future for everyone associated with the King by creating a museum out of the Graceland estate.

Open since ’82

And in the summer of 1982, Graceland welcomed its first visitors. Elvis was still the biggest-selling solo artist ever, and a huge number of fans wanted to come to his home and pay tribute to their hero. It’s now a major tourist destination. The only U.S. home to have more people coming through its doors is the White House! Yet there are still some parts of the famous mansion that folks haven’t seen.

The iconic billiards room

Fans know about Elvis’ games area, which has a large pool table just ready for racking up. It was inspired by a painting of a billiards room from the 1700s. Elvis’ decorator Bill Eubanks bought in over 300 yards of cloth, and his team spent more than a week processing this and fixing it in place on the walls and ceiling.

The TV room

When it came to the television room, however, Elvis found inspiration in President Lyndon B. Johnson. Not in terms of the décor, but the number of TV sets in the room! Elvis found out that Johnson had three, allowing him to watch all the big networks at the same time. Naturally, the King felt he needed three as well.

Mirrored effects

“The room is also famous for its bold yellow, navy, and white color scheme with a lightning bolt,” the Graceland website explains. “The room also features yellow shag carpet, a deep blue sectional, track lighting, and chrome arc lamps. Like several other rooms at Graceland, the bar area in the TV room is mirrored to make it seem bigger.” It’s certainly eye-catching!

That bright yellow fridge

And while the kitchen at Graceland is a great example of ’70s interior design, not many folks back then would have had light units made of stained glass. The color continues into the oven and dishwasher, which are lime green, while the refrigerator is bright yellow. There’s also a mammoth eight-burner cooker.

First microwave in Memphis

That kitchen was also pretty advanced for the time. In fact, Elvis was reportedly the first person in Memphis to own a microwave! It cost him more than $600 back then, which would be an eye-watering sum these days. It’s a great example of how the King didn’t skimp on cost when it came to food.

Food necessities

Elvis famously had a fondness for banana, bacon, and peanut butter sandwiches, which were prepared for him in the Graceland kitchen. His shopping list also included some other unusual items that he insisted were available to him 24/7 — wieners and sauerkraut, for instance.

Stayin’ the same

The décor in the lounge, meanwhile, remained constant from 1957 until the mid-1970s. Well, sort of! At Christmas time, Elvis would have red drapes in place of the standard blue ones — a custom that his executors have continued to this day.

Upping the décor game

But in 1974 the King wanted a change. As the Graceland website explains, he “redecorated the living room with dramatic French Provencal furniture décor, including red carpet, red velvet furniture, and red satin draperies.” That design survived into the early 1980s. Then, before the public were allowed into Graceland, Elvis’ executors opted to revert to the classic look, as that was what the room had looked like for most of Elvis’ time there.

The stunning colored glass

Separating the living room and the music area are colored-glass panels that have become iconic to Elvis fans. These have a peacock design, as the bird is a symbol of immortality in Christianity. They, along with the colored-glass fittings in the games room and by the main entrance, were all created during the fall of 1974 by Memphis’ Laukhuff Stained Glass.

Passion for animals

Fittingly for a man with peacock-decorated glass in his home, one of Elvis’ main passions was animals. He would even put a huge barn in the gardens! This housed his numerous horses. Elvis also owned a series of dogs over the years, including a Chow Chow, Great Danes, and a Basset Hound.

He even had a chimp

But the King’s most unique pet was Scatter, a chimpanzee he purchased from local TV star Captain Bill Killebrew. Scatter was allowed to wander the estate and spend time with the singer and his entourage. The King reportedly dressed him up in various costumes and, initially at least, was amused by the chimp’s antics. Elvis did eventually concede that Scatter needed to have his own quarters in Graceland, though.

The Jungle Room

Talking of monkeys, the “Jungle Room” is probably the most famous space in the whole home. Elvis always referred to the room as “the den,” but it was given its current nickname by a reporter when the house became a museum.

Center of the home

And according to Rolling Stone, the Jungle Room became the focal point of the house. Journalist Jordan Runtagh wrote, “There [Elvis] would take his breakfast, contemplate the enormous artificial waterfall, entertain his coterie of confidants..., and, when the urge struck, shoot out his television set with a revolver.” The décor was described by Runtagh as “breathtakingly garish” and “ostentatious kitsch.”

Love the green shag

In truth, though, the room was a wonderful representation of Elvis’ unique personality. Runtagh agreed, writing that “this unruly terrain of green shag carpeting, plastic plants, rainbow lights, and ersatz animal fur seemed perfectly appropriate” for the King. “His eccentric style, playful humor, manic moods, and sheer bravado ooze from every corner,” the journalist added.

Taking time to serve

When Elvis moved into Graceland in 1957, the area that would become the Jungle Room was simply an uncovered terrace. Before he’d truly made himself at home, however, the King was called up into the U.S. military. His drafting was a media circus, and he wound up serving for two years in Germany before coming back to America in the spring of 1960.

Not quite perfect...

On his return, Elvis began a host of renovations that would transform the house, piece by piece, into his vision of the perfect home. And by the mid-’60s, a fledgling version of the Jungle Room was in place, with heavy curtains that meant the area was dark 24/7. The interior design wasn’t quite to the King’s taste, though.

Basic furniture

In Alanna Nash’s book Elvis and the Memphis Mafia, Elvis’ friend Marty Lacker recalled, “None of the jungle stuff was there, then.” Instead, Elvis’ dad had fitted out the room with items from Sears. It apparently had “these big round tables like you’d see in a restaurant, with high chrome bottoms and big round black tops.”

The magic of color TV

At that time, the main selling point of the room was the huge color TV, which had been supplied to the King for free by RCA. This set, along with the others at Graceland, was treated rather recklessly by Elvis, who would reportedly shoot it with his .357 Magnum when Robert Goulet came on screen. But as Vernon would later point out, he always “could afford to buy a new one.”

Lovely, but impractical

Elvis soon made additions to the room, including a waterfall. But while this undoubtedly looked amazing, it was an unmitigated disaster in practical terms. “It was a great idea, except it flooded everything. It never worked. The whole room would get flooded,” Priscilla recalled when talking to Larry King in 2007.

More trouble than it’s worth

Lacker agreed with this assessment, saying, “Vernon got this cheap-ass plumber — some $4-an-hour guy — to do it originally, and the guy botched the job. The whole wall leaked, and water would flood the backyard.” Terrifyingly, the leaky waterfall caused a fire during Elvis’ 1971 Christmas get-together. Vernon had to quickly smash through the wall to access the damaged wires and avoid the whole house going up in flames.

Las Vegas Versailles

Then, in the 1970s the Jungle Room had yet more alterations to its décor. According to Runtagh, “Antebellum pillars, balustrades, and doorways were shrouded in heavy red velvet fabric, lassoed with gold tassels like a Las Vegas Versailles… Floors were cluttered with white fur rugs, robust caryatids, and gaudy lamps bejeweled with fake rubies and sequins.”

Always overdone

Elvis’ unique taste was actually joked about among his pals at the time. Memphis Mafia member Alan Fortas once said the Jungle Room included “all the furniture you wouldn’t buy — not in a million years.” Another friend, Lamar Fike, remarked, “Let’s face it: Elvis’ taste sucked... If something wasn’t overdone, it was abnormal to Elvis.”

The tiki transformation

Eventually the Jungle Room came to resemble a tiki bar, filled with dark-wood furniture. Elvis loved Hawaii, and he wanted to instill some of its spirit in his home. Interestingly, though, some people believe the King knowingly chose garish décor to get a rise out of his dad.

The King had self-awareness

Several of Elvis’ friends claim that Vernon once said, “I just went by Donald’s Furniture Store, and they’ve got the ugliest furniture I’ve ever seen in my life.” He then described the items to his son. Without missing a beat, Elvis smiled and said, “Good, sounds like me.” Perhaps he was more aware of how his tastes were perceived than some critics believed.

Not a bad studio

Amazingly, the Jungle Room even functioned as a temporary recording studio in 1976. With the thick carpets being excellent absorbers of sound waves, the King used a mobile studio there for some iconic sessions. The result was From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee. Four tracks also made it onto the album Moody Blue, which was released after Elvis’ death.

The Meditation Garden

But perhaps the most poignant and significant addition to Graceland was Elvis’ “Meditation Garden.” According to Runtagh, writing for People magazine, this was “a secluded patch of plants and fountains cordoned off by white columns and a pergola.” He added, “In life, it was where [Elvis] loved to sit and reflect... In death, it serves as his final resting place.”

Monuments to the King

The Meditation Garden is where the King’s remains were laid to rest, along with those of his mom, father, and grandma. There’s also a monument to his twin brother Jesse, who was stillborn. And the story of how Elvis wound up buried at his home is an interesting one. He and Gladys weren’t originally interred there but at Forest Hill Cemetery in Memphis.

A foiled plan

Sadly, there was an effort to remove Elvis’ remains from his grave — presumably to get ransom money for their return. Runtagh wrote, “Three men were arrested, though the scheme was so flimsy that they could only be charged with trespassing in the cemetery. Fearing copycat criminals, Presley’s body, as well as Gladys’, was moved back to Graceland.”

The fifth addition

The Meditation Garden held those four members of the family until 2020, when a fifth was added. Elvis’ grandson Benjamin Keough sadly passed away at the age of just 27. He was laid to rest opposite his famous grandfather. And visitors to Graceland can walk through the Meditation Garden and pay respects to Benjamin and his family.

Accessible today

If you’re at Graceland, you can also go inside the first floor of the house. The second floor, though? That remains cut off from the public. It was where Elvis and Lisa Marie’s bedrooms were located and is seen as the star’s area of private refuge. And because it has stayed off-limits, the second floor has become the subject of much speculation.

Strictly off-limits

Stories began to spread that the second floor was exactly as it had been when Elvis passed. These rumors could never be confirmed, though, as no images of the rooms have emerged, and the only people permitted upstairs are Lisa Marie, Priscilla, and the curator of the estate. Even sitting U.S. presidents haven’t been allowed in! The only other person confirmed to have seen the space is Nicolas Cage, who was briefly married to Lisa Marie.

In the same condition

Well, that was the case until April 2020, anyway. That month, a live tour was streamed by Graceland director of archives Angie Marchese — and it included some tidbits about the mysterious cordoned-off floor. Marchese noted, “So the one thing about Graceland and its mystique is the upstairs and the fact that it was Elvis’ private area,” before adding, “It looks as if he just got up and left.”

Lisa Marie’s wishes

“It is part of my job to maintain it. So, we do go up there to maintain the space,” Marchese continued. “The record on the record player is the last record he listened to. There’s a Styrofoam cup that sits on a bookshelf. The bed is made, so we really maintain it the way that Lisa wants us to preserve it.”

Holding onto the key

Lisa Marie had spoken about the second floor a few years earlier during an appearance on the British morning show Lorraine. When questioned about her feelings towards Graceland, she replied, “It’s the one place I feel safest ever. I keep the key to upstairs with me.”

One special sanctuary

“It’s just his room and my room, sort of sanctuary,” Lisa Marie continued. “If I take the key and just shut that door, I feel the safest and calmest that I could possibly feel.” She also revealed that she and her family go there when public admission hours have ended and that she occasionally sleeps on the second floor. This special area of Graceland is, and always will be, for the Presley family alone.