Located in Tupelo, Mississippi, the Elvis Presley Birthplace preserves the childhood home of influential rock and roll performer Elvis Presley, along with several area historic sites connected to Presley’s childhood, and serves as a stop on the Mississippi Blues Trail. Elvis Aaron Presley was born in a two-room house to Vernon Presley and Gladys Love on January 8, 1935, the surviving twin to stillborn brother Jessie Garon Presley.
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In April of 1936, Elvis and Gladys survived an F5 tornado within the house, which had been constructed by hand by Vernon. Due to financial difficulties, the Presleys were forced to move out of their home several years after Elvis’ birth, working odd jobs and moving between several Tupelo residences until their move to Memphis in 1948. Though he never received formal music training, Presley began to perform as a singer at local events during high school, and following his graduation, recorded several demos with Memphis studio Sun Records.
In July 1954, a recording of Presley performing a cover of Arthur Crudup’s 1946 blues hit “That’s All Right” was played on Dewey Phillips’ WHBQ radio show Red, Hot, and Blues, sparking public interest that led to a series of high-profile appearances on the Milton Berle Show and the Ed Sullivan Show. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Presley rose to fame as a leading popular music performer and teen icon, credited as an early pioneer of rockabilly music, which fused country music and rhythm and blues styles. Following his draft into military service in 1958, he ventured into acting and produced a number of soundtracks accompanying his films. In the 1970s, he shifted his focus to live performance, holding an extended concert residency in Las Vegas and starring in the first globally broadcast concert, entitled Aloha From Hawaii. In August of 1977, Presley died of a heart attack at his Graceland mansion in Memphis as a result of prescription drug abuse.
The Elvis Presley Birthplace originated from efforts by Presley himself, following a donation to the City of Tupelo after a 1957 concert, dedicated for the purpose of creating a city park. 15 acres in the East Tupelo area were purchased with the donation, including Presley’s childhood home and several sites connected to his youth. In 1971, the East Heights Garden Club began renovations on the birthplace home, including purchases of period-appropriate furniture to return it to its original appearance.
Today, the Elvis Presley Birthplace site includes Vernon’s original house, built for $180 worth of materials, as well as a small museum, a chapel, a park area and reflection pond, and the Assembly of God church building the Presleys attended during Elvis’ youth. The site is designated as an official Mississippi Historical Site, a Mississippi Blues site, and a Mississippi Country Music Trail site. A concrete circle containing granite blocks commemorating each year of Presley’s life circles the birthplace home, and a life-sized statue of Elvis at 13, commissioned by fans in 2002, stands nearby at ground level. A second statue, Becoming, is located in the park’s Overlook Pavilion, featuring two likenesses symbolizing Presley’s transformation from a small-town boy to an international music icon. Outside the museum, a Story Wall displays anecdotes of Presley’s young days from hometown friends, and a Fountain of Life contains water spouts for every year of his life.
Inside the Museum and Event Center, exhibits detail Elvis’ boyhood in Tupelo and the history of the city that impacted his upbringing. A replica of the Presleys’ 1939 Plymouth sedan, which Vernon drove on the family’s move from Tupelo to Memphis, is also displayed. A Gift Shop sells more than 2,000 items of Elvis-related memorabilia, and a 140-seat Great Hall and 126-seat Theater may be rented for weddings, film screenings, and other private special events.
At the Assembly of God church, moved and restored to the park from its original site, visitors can relive church sermons from Presley’s youth via multimedia presentation experiences. The nearby Reflections pond also offers quiet introspection and meditation opportunities, featuring a Bridge Over Troubled Water, named for Presley’s famous cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s 1970 folk hit.
Ongoing Programs and Education
A catering kitchen, green room, and 25-seat meeting room are available for use with private rentals of the museum’s Great Hall and Theater. Audiovisual equipment for meetings is also available upon request. Periodic public special events, including tribute concerts featuring Elvis impersonators, are also held at the birthplace site commemorating important dates and anniversaries related to Presley’s life. An annual Fan Day celebration is also held in August, featuring family-friendly programming celebrating the artist’s life and career.
306 Elvis Presley Dr, Tupelo, MS 38801, Phone: 662-841-1245