The shotgun shack built by Vernon Presley had only two rooms for Vernon, Gladys and baby Elvis. This was the mid-1930s, and times were tough for the Presleys, as well as just about everyone else in Tupelo, Mississippi. The boy was only two years old when the bank stepped in and took the house back. The little white house with the porch swing is his original home, on its original site, restored to its original state, just as it would have been on the day of Elvis’s birth in January 8, 1935.
The house is only part of the grounds of this Mississippi Historic Site, which also hosts a small museum, an events center, and the Assembly of God Church where the Presley family worshiped. The church was moved here from its original site, but this is the building where a young Elvis first encountered the gospel music that would shape and influence his entire career.
The Presleys stayed in Tupelo until Elvis was 13, as a boy foregoing the .22 rifle he really wanted for the guitar that Gladys thought was a better idea. She was right, and Elvis could be seen around town carrying that guitar, right up until the time Vernon piled his family into their 1939 Plymouth and made the move to Memphis.
Even though he left Tupelo as a young teen, Elvis never forgot his hometown or its people. He returned to Tupelo in 1956 to perform a benefit for the city, and again a year later to raise money to build a Youth Center and park for Tupelo kids, just like he had been. The city used the proceeds from the show to buy the Presley house and surrounding property for the park. The site is now part of the Mississippi Blues Trail, a reminder that humble beginnings can produce a King.
Know Before You Go
The grounds are open for exploration any time, but the Museum, house and church are open Mon.-Sat. 9:00 to 5:00 and Sunday 1:00 to 5:00. Admission for the house tour is $8 for adults, $5 for kids 7-12 (under 7 are free). There is also a full tour of all the Elvis attractions in Tupelo, so check the website for details.