TUPELO, Miss. — The king of rock ’n’ roll was born in a two-room Tupelo home, now part of the 15-acre Elvis Presley Birthplace park, which draws more than 50,000 visitors each year from across the world.
“Most people never realize Elvis Presley was from Tupelo,” said Dick Guyton, executive director of the Elvis Presley Birthplace Foundation. “Graceland covers the entertainer Elvis; we cover the little boy Elvis.”
The State of Mississippi designated the Elvis Presley Birthplace a historic landmark, where groups can receive guided tours.
“We have a 15-acre park with the birthplace, a museum, a chapel and the Assembly of God church, and the park’s grounds consist of memorial gardens,” Guyton said.
Although Presley’s music and lifestyle was extraordinary and in the limelight, his childhood was not nearly as lavish.
“Everyone knows Elvis started from the bottom, but groups are surprised to learn Elvis was so poor; he had humble beginnings, if that even,” Guyton said. “People back then had nothing in Mississippi.”
The small home was built in 1934 with $180 Presley’s father borrowed from his employer. The City of Tupelo purchased the home and surrounding property in 1957. The home stands in its original location and has been restored with period furniture.
Surrounding the home, the “Walk of Life” is a scored concrete circle that denotes each year of Presley’s life. The circle gives groups an opportunity to reflect on memorable events in Presley’s life, and perhaps in their own.
The Elvis at 13 statue is on display in the park, portraying Presley in oversized overalls, an open-collar shirt and plain shoes as evidence of his poverty.
In 2014, two statues were unveiled at the birthplace, collectively called Becoming. They symbolize the transformation of Presley as a boy to an entertainer.
A trip to the birthplace wouldn’t be complete without a stop in the Elvis Presley Museum, which consists mainly of the personal collection from Janelle McComb, a Tupelo resident and a long-time family friend of the Presleys.
For more information, call 662-841-1245 or visit elvispresleybirthplace.com.