In 1934, Vernon Presley borrowed $180 for materials to build a small frame house in East Tupelo. Vernon’s father Jessie and Vester, his brother, helped with building the little shotgun house. It was in this humble two-room home lit by a single light bulb in each room that Elvis Aron Presley was born on January 8, 1935. Elvis was one of twin brothers born to the Presleys. His brother, Jessie Garon, was stillborn.
The family lived in the house about three years until the home was repossessed when Vernon could not repay the $180 loan. Vernon and Gladys worked various jobs while in Tupelo and moved several different times during the thirteen years they resided in Mississippi. The Presley family lived in other locations in Tupelo until Elvis was thirteen years old when they moved to Memphis.
On October 3, 1945, Elvis made his first public radio broadcast. At ten years old, Elvis stood on a chair and sang “Old Shep” in a youth talent contest at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show at the Tupelo Fairgrounds. WELO Radio broadcast the talent show, and Elvis won the second prize of $5 in fair ride tickets. His performance marks one of the first public musical performances for Elvis as a child.
Elvis returned to Tupelo in 1956 and 1957 to perform concerts at the Fairgrounds. Elvis donated the proceeds from the 1957 concert to the City of Tupelo to start a park in the East Tupelo area.
The City purchased 15 acres which included the house where Elvis was born. In 1971, the East Heights Garden Club began to improve the birthplace as a club project.
Over the years the club purchased furniture and other pieces to duplicate the house’s contents from when the Presleys lived there in the 30s.