The Most Iconic Room at Graceland was Originally Not a Part of Elvis Presley’s Memphis Estate
Elvis Presley‘s home in Memphis, TN, the Graceland estate, is one of the most recognizable in the United States. The site is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is the first residence recognized for significance related to rock music. However, one of Graceland’s most iconic rooms was originally not part of the estate Presley first purchased for his family in 1957.
Elvis Presley was not the original owner of Graceland
Although the property is intrinsically tied to the Presley family, they were not the original owners of Graceland.
In 1939, Grace’s niece, Ruth Brown Moore, and her husband, Dr. Thomas Moore, built the mansion. For generations, the land had been part of the family and named after Dr. Moore’s Aunt Grace Toof. Dr. Moore was a professor of Urology at the University of Tennessee, per the official Graceland website.
Graceland has a long musical history. Mr. and Mrs. Moore’s daughter, Ruth Marie, was a harpist with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, and the family held classical musical recitals in the formal rooms of the home.
Presley purchased the property and its adjacent grounds in March of 1957 for $102,500. He moved in with his father and mother, Vernon and Gladys Presley, and his grandmother Minnie Mae. Later, his wife Priscilla Presley moved in, and the estate was Lisa Marie Presley‘s first home.
However, one of the now-iconic rooms wasn’t located on the property when Presley made the purchase.
Graceland’s wildest room was not originally part of the estate
The 14-by-40-foot area that became the jungle room was originally an open patio at the rear of Graceland, just behind the kitchen. In a video titled The Gates of Graceland, Vice President of Archives Angie Marchese and host Tom Brown spoke of the transformation of the original building shortly after Presley returned home from Germany.
Marchese said of the room, “In 1957, this would have been in the backyard. It was a screened-in room before it became an enclosed room.” She pointed to Graceland’s original back door, still visible in the room.
“When Elvis was here, the window that is currently here was not in place. This area was a solid wall,” Marchese explained, saying the family added the glass panel for tour purposes so people could look into the room.
By 1965 Presley fully enclosed the porch, turning the area into what is known as the wildest of Graceland’s rooms.
Graceland’s Jungle Room was the setting for some of Elvis Presley’s most intimate recordings
On February 2nd, 1976, Presley and more than a dozen band members squeezed into the jungle room to record one of the most intimate albums of his career, “From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee.”
In a Graceland video discussing the sessions, Marchese noted that carpeting on the room’s ceiling made the area ideal for recording. She also revealed Presley removed the furnishings to fit everyone involved in the sessions.
“[Presley] always wanted the musicians and the singers right with him,” said session guitarist James Burton to Rolling Stone. Drummer Ronnie Tutt also told the news outlet, “That’s because Elvis fed off the emotion and dynamics you can get when communicating as musicians and artists. That is the best way that music is made.”