Graceland may get a run for its money

Elvis Presley is shown performing in Providence, R.I. on May 23, 1977, three months before his death. An Elvis Presley fan wants to give Graceland a run for the money by refurbishing the King's old desert home as a tourist attraction.AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

A fan wants to give Graceland a run for the money by refurbishing Elvis Presley's old desert home as a tourist attraction.

Reno Fontana and his wife, Laura, bought the Palm Springs home site unseen in November.

"I want this to be Elvis of California," Fontana said.

The Spanish-style white stucco home has five bedrooms and seven bathrooms, with a sunken tub and a pool. Elvis and Priscilla Presley bought the home for $85,000 in April 1970. The family, including daughter Lisa Marie, lived there part-time.

After his death, Presley's lawyer took control of the estate.

The house already is a bit of a tourist draw.

"I get asked probably six times a day to see the inside of the Elvis house," said Bill Davis, owner of Celebrity Tours in Palm Springs.

"In fact, last week I had a woman from Poland, and all she could say was: 'inside Elvis house,'" he said. "People want to see what's inside."

Fontana says he will provide a look to anyone who knocks on the door. Right now, there is not much to see in the unfurnished home.

But Fontana, a lifelong Elvis fan, plans to decorate it in elaborate Elvis style and build a chapel, banquet hall and recording studio to attract weddings and recording business.

"We may have our names on the deed, but we are the caretakers," he said. "This house belongs to Elvis fans around the world."