The Auction at Graceland•January 8, 2020
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 1/8/2020

On September 26, 1956, Elvis returned home to Tupelo Mississippi to perform two shows at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair & Dairy Show. Elvis was welcomed back with open arms and was given a key to the city by Mayor James Ballard while Mississippi Governor J.P Coleman read a proclamation honoring Elvis. During that trip, Elvis told the Mayor “I saw the house I was born in and 15 acres for sale. I want you to take this check back and put it to build a park for the kids of East Tupelo.” A year later, on September 27, 1957, Elvis returned once again to his hometown of Tupelo to perform at the fairground in a show to benefit the planned Elvis Presley Youth Center. The local paper welcomes him home by referring to him as “the best ambassador any town could have” and encouraging people to warmly embrace his return. It was during this trip that Elvis donated $14,000 for a youth recreation center to be built. He felt that the kids growing up in East Tupelo needed a place to congregate and play without having to go to West Tupelo where they were scorned. Offered are three letters from Mayor James Ballard to “E.P. Continentals” fan club co-presidents Jean & Pam dated October 11, 1962, December 8, 1962 and October 21, 1963 respectively. Each typed letter is on Elvis Presley Youth Center letterhead with all discussing donations and contributions to the fundraising efforts.

The October 11, 1962 letter mentions, “In regard to your request to use the last letter we wrote you, if it is all right. However, I suggest that you make one minor change in the letter; the part concerning the cost of $12,500 for Elvis’ birthplace house. We actually bought 4 houses you saw there (all owned by the same person) for the above price, but the 2 other houses were of very little value, and will not remain in the Park grounds. Our primary purpose was to acquire the land they were on, and the house where Elvis was born, which will remain on the E.P. Park grounds.” A project of this magnitude is no easy feat especially when individual donations range from $0.50 to $10.00 on average. The followup letters, particularly the one from October 1963, states in part, “Since our last correspondence with you, the City of Tupelo has added $25,000.00 to the Elvis Presley Youth Center Fund, and bids are to be taken in the very near future for the actual construction of the building. However, this will not leave any money at all for the building of the ‘Elvis’ Swimming Pool. We can only take a step at a time, and you are certainly familiar with the problems that can arise on such a tremendous project that gets its sole support from contributions. Be that as it may, we are thankful for what has been done to help this project along. Many unselfish contributions have been made, and we certainly appreciate the special time and effort given by you and your group. We look forward to hearing from you at all times.” 

This lot emanates from the Jean and Pam Drew collection, co-presidents of the “E.P. Continentals” Elvis Presley fan club from Chicago. The Drews were close with Elvis and visited Graceland on a number of occasions in the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. Each of the three letters comes with their original mailing envelopes, twelve (12) black-and-white period photos of the park, a Elvis Presley Youth Center honorary life member certificate to Jean and Pam Drew, and an original “E.P. Continentals” fan club membership card. Two of the twelve 3 1/2 by 3 1/2 inch (8.89 x 8.89 cm) photos have “E.P. CONTINENTALS” stamped on the reverse, and two show Tupelo Mayor James L. Ballard on the grounds while construction continued in 1962. The photos were developed in July 1962, so the photos were taken prior to that. The letters each measure 10 3/4 by 8 1/4 inches (27.30 x 20.95 cm), the envelopes measure 4 by 9 1/2 inches (10.16 x 24.13 cm) and the membership certificate measures 3 3/4 by 9 inches (9.52 x 22.86 cm). This treasured collection is a time capsule of documentation to the efforts to realize Elvis’ dream of creating a youth center in his hometown for kids just like him. The incredible grouping is accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Graceland Authenticated.

While the envelopes have obvious wear from mailing and opening, the group presents very clean. Near Mint condition overall.
Collection of “Elvis Presley Youth Center” Correspondence Including Three Letters, Envelopes, Lifetime Member Certificate and Twelve 1962 Photos of the Center Being Built
Current Bidding (Reserve Has Been Met)
Minimum Bid: $200.00
Final prices include buyers premium.: $562.50
Estimate: $400 - $600
Number Bids: 12
Auction closed on Wednesday, January 8, 2020.
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