TUPELO – Visiting the tiny house Elvis Presley was born and grew up in reminded Priscilla Presley of how shocked she was the first time she saw the home in the 1960s with her then-husband.
She toured the Elvis Presley Birthplace on Saturday for the first time since she last visited with The King himself in the early 1970s.
“There were no additions when I was here last, there was just the little house he was born in,” she said. “Coming here for the first time I was so shocked to see the place. Two rooms! I don’t know how they lived, and with his grandmother and father and, of course, Gladys.”
Dick Guyton, director of the birthplace, said Presley took the time to read each description of each item in the museum as she was given a tour.
Emerging from Elvis’ original Tupelo home, she surprised many tourists who had dropped by for their own tour, including Chonda Best of Jasper, Ala.
“We went to the flea market and then decided to swing by here so my son could see the birthplace of Elvis,” said Best, who was taking son Noah through the museum for the first time. “We were so surprised to see her.”
Presley said when she first met Elvis in Germany he spoke often and fondly of his life in east Tupelo.
“He told me of his humble beginnings: the home he was born in, the Assembly of God church that he went to,” she told a small crowd of supporters. “I got to learn a lot about him there because it was a delicate time for him. He never forgot Tupelo, Mississippi. He never forgot where he was raised.”
Before the tour, Mayor Jason Shelton, with the aid of Elvis’ second cousin Brandon Presley, presented Priscilla Presley with the key to the city and read a proclamation naming her an honorary citizen of Tupelo.
“I was absolutely star-stuck,” Shelton said. “To be able to present Ms. Priscilla Presley with a key to the city and make her an honorary citizen is certainly a highlight of my administration.”
Guyton said he has heard Elvis would sit atop the ridge behind the birthplace museum with his guitar and dream. He showed Presley the mold of a statue of Elvis with his guitar as a child that will be placed on the ridge along with another “larger-than-life” statue and a pavilion.
“We plan to have it finished in time for the 80th birthday,” Guyton said. “We would like to invite you to be our guest at the 80th birthday party” next year.
Presley said she is proud of what everyone in Tupelo has done to preserve the early life of Elvis and will do her best to send as much tourism toward Tupelo as she can.