Elvis Presley left quite a mark on the world. Part of what makes his mark so permanent is that he made everything he touched his own. When he covered someone else’s songs, they became his through the sheer power of his performance. He stole every scene of the films he was in. At the same time, he took a huge long-standing mansion and made it a landmark. Today, Graceland stands as a shrine to the memory of The King.
If you’ve ever been to Graceland, seen photos online, or purchased the album Elvis Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis, you’re familiar with the iconic façade of the home. All it takes is one look at the front of The King’s mansion to know that Elvis Presley knew how to make an impression.
Elvis Presley made many changes to Graceland to make it his own. One of the first changes he made, though, was the addition of the two stone lions that bracket the walkway leading to the front porch steps.
Where Did Elvis Presley Get the Lions?
Back in 2016, the web series Gates of Graceland revealed where Elvis Presley found the lions to adorn his home’s walk. The episode features one of the foremost experts on The King’s Memphis palace. Angie Marchese is the Director of Archives for Graceland. She is also a walking encyclopedia of Elvis knowledge and trivia.
Standing in front of Elvis Presley’s iconic home, Marchese asked Tom Brown, the show’s host, if he knew the story of the lions. He did not. Luckily, Marchese does. Not only does she know the story but she also has the paperwork to back it up.
Before Elvis Presley bought Graceland, he lived in a house on Audubon Drive. Every time he left the house, he passed a home on Cherry Road. The house had two white marble lions in front of it. Marchese said that Elvis probably passed that house and its lawn décor a million times. They obviously caught his eye.
When Elvis Presley was moving into Graceland, he drove up to the house on Cherry Road, knocked on the door, and asked if he could buy their lions. He knew that they would look perfect in front of this new home. Not long after, he hired a firm to move and install the statues in front of his new home.
During the video, we get to see the invoice for the purchase and relocation of the lions. The invoice is from T.J. Malone and Son Tile, Marble, and Terrazzo and is dated August 21, 1957. This was just months after Elvis Presley put his initial down payment on Graceland.
The invoice also shows a cost of $1,000. In the notes, it says the charge is for, “Purchasing and installing two imported marble lions,” then goes on to give the address of the Cherry Road residence where Elvis Presley first saw the statues. In today’s money, The King would have paid $9,426.23. It’s safe to say that those statues have more than paid for themselves over the years.