One side of the historic Graceland gate will be removed tonight for repair at the National Ornamental Metal Museum. A satellite TV truck bumped into and slightly damaged the south half of the driveway gates during Elvis Week in August, Graceland spokesman Todd Morgan said Wednesday.
"It's probably the most recognized piece of architectural metal work in the world," said Jim Wallace, director of the Metal Museum. Both halves of the gate feature musical notes and a silhouette of Elvis Presley playing guitar.
The now-famous gate debuted on April 26, 1957, when a proud young Presley posed for pictures with it. Elvis wore a bright yellow jacket, brown trousers, red socks and red belt, and white, green and blue shoes decorated with guitar-shaped figures, according to an account in The Commercial Appeal. While posing, Elvis noticed that motorists began stopping. "Let's go. They're beginning to come," the newspaper story quotes Presley.
The lore of the gate grew over the years. Elvis's uncle, Vester Lee Presley, and first cousin, Robert Harold Loyd, were fixtures as gatekeepers. The same gate protected Elvis from an angry, gun-wield ing Jerry Lee Lewis, who drove up to it on successive nights in 1976 demanding to see the King. Young rocker Bruce Springsteen also wanted to see Elvis that year; the closed gate forced Springsteen to jump the stone wall fronting Graceland. Guards turned Springsteen away at the front door, saying Elvis was in Lake Tahoe. Shortly after Presley's death in 1977, three young men from Little Rock were apprehended on the Memphis-Arkansas Bridge after prying off some of the gate's musical notes.
The vandalism brought a plea from Elvis's father, Vernon Presley: "I'm begging the public not to ruin it. I'm sure Elvis would not want it done. We'd like to keep it intact and as pretty as possible without being ragged."
The Metal Museum will bring about six people to lift the gate from its hinges, Wallace said. The Metal Museum will re-install the repaired gate by 10 a.m. Sunday, he said. "Our usual human and electronic security that we always have at the front gate area will be upgraded, " Morgan said, while the gate is missing. Wallace declined to say how much the repair would cost.