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Opening the doors to Elvis Presley‘s Graceland home in 1982 was a decision his ex-wife Priscilla Presley did not take lightly. However, the decision was necessary to preserve the private residence and ensure the financial stability of the estate in trust for the couple’s daughter Lisa Marie Presley. Forty years later, Priscilla admits the risky move was “a bit nerve-wracking” and “frightening.”

Priscilla Presley poses outside of Elvis Presley's Graceland home in Memphis, TN on March 27, 2006.
Priscilla Presley poses outside of Elvis Presley’s Graceland home in Memphis, TN, on Mar. 27, 2006 | Mike Brown/Getty Images

Priscilla Presley had reservations about opening Elvis Presley’s home to the public

In an interview with Jack Soden for Graceland’s official YouTube channel, Priscilla Presley relived her decision to allow visitors inside Elvis Presley’s sanctuary 40 years later she first opened the home’s doors in 1982. She admits to having reservations about her decision once it was established.

Priscilla said, “It was nerve-wracking and a bit frightening. But I have to say; people were coming in droves.”

“They loved it. And here we are today,” she told Soden, Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE) then-CEO in 2022. Four weeks after opening its doors to Elvis fans around the globe, Graceland’s tours generated enough income to make back all the money the family needed to keep the home operational.

“It was really hard for me to open those doors,” Priscilla admitted. “It was so private for so long.”

However, she was concerned about what people would think as they walked around the home—seeing how she and Elvis lived and what was considered their private space for many years. “Everything was the way Elvis left it,” Priscilla reflected.

“It was hard to come to terms with it. Although I knew we had to do it,” she said.

“We saved Graceland”

The decision to open Graceland’s doors to the public was to save the king of rock and roll’s home. When Elvis Presley died on Aug. 16, 1977, he reportedly had $5M in assets show for a career that netted him well over $100M.

As Graceland’s owner, Elvis reportedly owed the IRS around $500K. Plus, the upkeep for the mansion was beyond what the family could afford.

“We didn’t know at all if we would even have any guests. We had no idea. We were really concerned about if anyone would show up, and boy, to our surprise, they did,” she said.

Priscilla said that it remains home to her when she enters Graceland today. “Just the feeling, just the atmosphere of it. It is home.”

Priscilla Presley calls Graceland ‘sacred’

Lisa Marie Presley as a toddler photographed with her mother, Priscilla Presley and father, Elvis Presley, at Graceland.
Lisa Marie Presley as a toddler photographed with her mother, Priscilla Presley, and father, Elvis Presley, at Graceland | Magma Agency/WireImage

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Elvis Presley’s family home was where Priscilla Presley got to know the king of rock and roll personally. Graceland was where they hosted family and friends and created a lifetime of memories during their courtship and after their May 1967 marriage.

“It is sacred,” Priscilla says of Graceland. “It’s so beautiful.”

She continued, “I can see Elvis and the guys at the dining room table. Him sitting at the piano and playing.”

“I would sit on the couch across from him and listen to him sing gospel [songs],” Priscilla revealed. “I can still visualize everything as if it were happening right now every time I go in.”

She concluded, “I can see him coming down the stairs and listening to who was in the kitchen before he came down. Every visual I see when I walk in that door.”

Elvis and Priscilla Presley met in 1950. The couple wed in 1967, welcomed one daughter Lisa Marie Presley in 1968, and divorced in 1973.