Elvis Unlimited spend the new year in Memphis and posted several updates.
We are happy to report the Elvis Presley Blvd sign at the visitor's center has been fully restored! We also were surprised to see the Howard Johnson on Elvis Presley where Elvis sometimes retreated to is being demolished! We arrived to find half of the hotel and swimming pool gone. Still standing was the back building where Elvis kept two rooms and the building where the Elvis conventions were held since the 80's.
The awnings at the Graceland shops have been changed from burgundy to blue. The Christmas display at the plaza and the Graceland grounds have gone back to the traditional style. The last few years, Arkansas business man, Jennings Osborne has donated elaborate Christmas light displays at Graceland. This year Osborne donated to Presley Place and all the residents. EPE reported a Christmas display on the gates of Presley Place by Osborne but as of today, just 3 days after Christmas, we saw no sign of any Christmas cheer in the neighborhood.
We also visited the Audubon Drive home which looks fantastic. There were new garage doors matching the color of the house. At this address, we also did not see any signs of holiday cheer. But after much hard work, we are happy to report the home and grounds look outstanding.
We drove passed the homes of former friends and family behind Graceland. The only home with holiday lights was Linda Thompson's former home.
Brooks Road where so many fan have stayed since the beginning ( and maybe even before) Elvis Week has been a major concern of Memphians and fans alike since the area has gotten so run down. EPE and many other businesses have joined forces with the city to improve the area. The Days Inn which was a very popular place to stay in the early eighties has had several name changes. It now is called Budget Lodge. The Days Inn was host to window decorating contests, pool parties and many fan clubs back in the day. Jimmy Velvet always had a room full of merchandise there. And this was the hotel to go to day or night and walk in and out of other fan's rooms to buy, trade or talk. On any given night, you would find Harold Loyd, DJ Fontana and sometimes his Aunt and many others connected to Elvis sitting by the pool with fans telling stories or answering questions.
The Clarion on Brooks appears to be undergoing some renovations. We saw the top floor rooms bare. The lobby and everything else appears to be staying the same for now. A warning to anyone staying at the Airport Inn, no one is allowed to visit after 10 PM. This hotel also seems to be possibly remodeling. We saw many mattresses outside on balconies on the top floor. The Kettle restaurant has also invested in renovations. Small steps to a safer area which is much needed.
Elvis Unlimited arrived in time for the Liberty Bowl and we are happy to report Graceland is buzzing with many tourists.