“Let me make sure I have my gun.” When I told Shawn where we were headed, that was his response. What?

While in Memphis, I decided a little tour was in order. I love history, Texas history, U.S history, historical fiction, and of course Elvis history. Like combining passions of writing and Elvis, I could combine writing and Elvis and Elvis history as well. Life is indeed good.

Seeing the sights from the other side of an Uber was a new experience. Shawn, my Uber driver, was a very large and intimidating figure, a lifelong Memphis resident, and a pretty tough guy. More likely from our conversation, he has a gentle giant interior with an imposing tough guy exterior. Looks can be deceiving.

The National Audubon Society is a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to conservation, one of the oldest of such organizations in the world. Most think of birds and trees and wildlife with the mention of “Audubon.” In the Elvis world, Audubon means 1034 – the one story ranch style house in Memphis that Elvis first purchased for himself and his parents in 1956, before moving to Graceland in 1957. 

Purchased on March 12, 1956 for $29,500 from the Welsh Plywood Corporation, 22 year old Elvis bought this unassuming pleasant green house with four bedrooms and two bathrooms. It was in a quiet residential neighborhood, until the Presley’s arrival.

Right after moving there, Heartbreak Hotel became the most popular song in the nation.The house quickly became a focal point for fans, media and celebrities to visit.  Police frequently were called to deal with the mobs of admirers who would line the street.  It became too much, and after 13 months,  Elvis sold the Audubon Drive property as part of the purchase of Graceland.Elvis and Graceland owner Ruth Moore swapped residences; Ruth moved into the Audubon home as Elvis moved into Graceland.The property has been sold about eight times since.

Currently the house is owned by the Mike Curb Institute at Rhodes College, last purchased only a few years ago for $1,000,000. The house is currently not open to the public, but occasionally hosts small VIP events and private music concerts.In April 2017, the house was damaged by fire while undergoing renovations.Most of the contents of the house were undamaged because they were safely secured elsewhere at the time.

A plaque on the brickwork on the brick and iron fence the Presley’s installed reads:

On March 20, 1956 Elvis Presley and his parents, Vernon and Gladys, moved into 1034 Audubon Drive purchased with royalties from his first million-dollar-selling record, “Heartbreak Hotel.” It was the year that defined his career. The home is now owned by the Mike Curb Family Foundation dedicated to the support of music education and the restoration of historic music locations. In 2006, the foundation created the Mike Curb Institute for Music at Rhodes College to advance music-related preservation and research.

Next stop, gun ready to rock and roll, we moved on to Humes High School.