Ninety miles from Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, groups discover Elvis Presley’s humble beginnings in Tupelo.
“To understand Elvis, it helps to come here,” said Jennie Bradford Curlee, public relations and international sales director of the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau. “You not only visit Tupelo Hardware, where Elvis bought his first guitar, but most importantly, you visit his birthplace.”
That birthplace is a two-room shotgun house built by Presley’s father for $180 in 1934, two years before Elvis’ birth. Lit by a single lightbulb in each room, the home is restored to its original condition and decorated with period furniture.
The property also has a museum that showcases artifacts Presley left behind when he left at age 13; there are also murals and audiovisual presentations. His childhood church, the Assembly of God, has also been moved to the complex. Inside that wood-framed structure where Elvis got his gospel roots, groups experience the Pentecostal services of the 1940s via a multimedia presentation.
Groups may want to overnight in an antebellum bed-and-breakfast in Vicksburg to experience authentic history.
“The Greek Revival-style Cedar Grove Mansion, once serving as a hospital for Union soldiers, survived the Civil War with minimal damage and today has a cannonball still lodged in the parlor wall,” said Bill Seratt, executive director of the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Cedar Grove has five acres of gardens for guests to peruse.
The Anchula Mansion and Inn was once the home of Joseph E. Davis, patriarchal brother of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Open for tours, this first columned mansion in Vicksburg and Greek Revival landmark is decorated in antiques from the antebellum era.
“Nearby Mont Helena is one of the South’s finest examples of Colonial Revival architecture,” said Seratt. “Perched high on a pre-Columbian Indian mound, this magnificent white mansion can be seen for miles.
“Don’t miss their presentation of ‘The Dream Revisited,’ a play and love story about the home’s builder, Helen Johnstone Harris,” said Seratt. “It is offered here every spring.”