Elvis Birthplace to showcase expansion to fans

By Carlie Kollath Wells/NEMS Daily Journal




TUPELO – The newly expanded Elvis Presley Birthplace is ready for visitors.
Purple crushed velvet drapes are hung in the new theater, the new snack bar is stocked and the grass is nice and green on the seating levels in the new outdoor amphitheater.
Birthplace officials will unveil and dedicate the $4.3 million expansion today at 10:45 a.m. as part of the annual Elvis Fan Day events. The new building is free to tour.
Plus, a short film about Elvis’ life in Tupelo will be screened all day in the theater. Admission is free to the movie.
Special ticket pricing is offered today and Friday for all of the attractions, which includes Elvis’ childhood home, the museum, the memorial chapel, the church and all of the grounds. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids.
“This was five years coming,” said Dick Guyton, executive director of the birthplace.
Guyton and donors had a sneak preview Tuesday night at a private party.
“We got a lot of good comments,” he said. “I had at least a half-dozen people, when they walked around the corner into the theater, say ‘wow.’”
The 120-seat theater is a prominent part of the expansion. Guyton anticipates its use for movie screenings and live performances.
Currently, Elvis tribute artist performances are not permitted on the grounds, but Guyton hinted that the Elvis Presley Memorial Foundation board may permit some flexibility to the policy.
The theater also is available to the public for renting.
The theater is housed in a new event building, which includes new bathrooms, display space, a conference room, an exhibit hall, a green room for entertainers, administrative offices and a smaller party area. Outside, it joins up with a 75-seat amphitheater and a patio with picnic space.
Last week, Guyton had concerns whether the project would be ready for visitors, but workers put in time all weekend.
“They had really helped us out,” he said. “The landscape people have just been really good. I didn’t expect to have sod down.”
But, the workers still will be plugging away after the events this week.
Photos and wall decorations will be put up in coming weeks. Plus, Scott Blake from Design 500 on Wednesday was working on plans for redesigning the gift shop. He hopes to have the project done by the end of the year.
carlie.wells@journalinc.com

Elvis Fan Appreciation Schedule

Today
9 a.m. – Shake Rag documentary showing at the Lyric Theatre. Free.

10:45 a.m. – Fan Appreciation Day ceremony at the Elvis Presley Birthplace. Ribbon-cutting and dedication of the expansion. Admission to new theater is free. Admission to other attractions is $10 for adults and $5 for kids.

6 p.m. – Down on Main concert in Fairpark. Free.

8 p.m. – Elvis statue unveiled in Fairpark. Free.

Friday, Aug. 10
9 a.m. – Tupelo Unity Choir performance and panel discussion with Elvis’ fans at the Lyric Theatre. Free.

11 a.m. – Fan Appreciation Day ceremony at Elvis Presley Birthplace. Admission to new theater is free. Admission to other attractions is $10 for adults and $5 for kids.

Noon – “Love, Tupelo” book signing at Reed’s Gum Tree Book Store. Proceeds benefit the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association.

6:30 p.m. – Elvis movie showing at new birthplace theater. Will be either “Viva Las Vegas” or “Jailhouse Rock.” Free admission.

Saturday, Aug. 11
6:30 p.m. – Elvis movie showing at new birthplace theater. Will be either “Viva Las Vegas” or “Jailhouse Rock.” Free admission.

All week
The Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau has two of Elvis’ jumpsuits on display. The CVB is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and is located at 399 E. Main St. The exhibits are free.

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