Saturday, March 14, 2015

Calendar* Clarification: Elvis Presley Purchase of Graceland

Many websites report that on March 17, 1956, Elvis Presley bought the Graceland mansion in Memphis, Tennessee.    Other sites report the date of the sale as March 19.  Cindy Hazen, in the book 'Memphis Elvis-Style', says that Presley bought Graceland on March 19.   These dates are not technically correct.  According to the book Elvis Presley:  Rock & Roll's King by Stephanie Watson, the only thing that happened on March 17 regarding the property was that Presley's father, Vernon, made a $1,000 cash deposit and signed a "provisional sales contract".  Watson states that Elvis agreed to purchase the home on March 19, but he didn't close the sale (the official date that he bought the home) until March 26.  The official Graceland website states that the Presleys (Elvis, mother Gladys and father Vernon) made the cash deposit on March 16.  This information is difficult to believe, since Mr. and Mrs. Presley didn't return to Memphis until March 16.  The Presleys had been visiting Elvis in Hollywood, California on the set of his movie Loving You.  Elvis returned to Memphis by train on March 18 (arriving at 11:35 p.m. according to many Presley fan websites), so he couldn't have bought the home on March 17.   
According to Heritage Auction, which recently had a copy of the official contract, Elvis, his mother, and his father, signed the contract to purchase on March 21.  The above photo of the contract also refutes those sites that claim the home was purchased on March 17.  Elvis could not have bought the home on either March 17 or March 19, since this contract was dated March 21, 1956.  It likely took a few days to draw up, so the above contract doesn't tell us exactly when the cash deposit was made, but '' states that the deposit was made on the 19th.  Elvis viewed the estate for the first time on March 19, the day after he arrived back in Memphis.  But Gladys Presley first viewed the property, and on March 16, according to the official Graceland website, she made the $1,000 deposit (subject to approval by Elvis) to realtor Virginia Grant.  The official sale contract form from Grant Realty was drawn up and signed on March 17--again very possible the deposit was made March 16 with the official papers presented the following day.  Watson is probably wrong on the March 17 date for this reason. 

 The official Graceland website states that the home was purchased on March 25.  According to Heritage Auctions and several other websites, the closing date "was set for March 26 at 4:30 p.m.)

To summarize, we believe Gladys Presley viewed the Graceland home on March 16 and made a deposit to Virginia Brown Realty that night.  Vernon Presley then signed the sales contract the following day, subject to approval by Elvis.  Presley returned from Hollywood late March 18, and viewed the Graceland property the following day (March 19).  He fell in love with it instantly, and agreed to purchase the home.  The official sales contract, which contained the signatures of Vernon, Gladys, and Elvis, was drawn up and signed on March 21.  The official purchase of the home was on either March 25 or 26.  The Graceland website claims it was the 25th, but Heritage Auctions, University Archives, and other websites say the closing was on March 26 at 4:30 p.m.  Unless the closing was moved up a day, the March 26th date is all that we have to go by, and unfortunately, we cannot find official records of the closing papers. 

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