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|VISITING FANS SADDENED BY AUDUBON FIRE
April 24, 2017 - Commercial Appeal / Elvis Express Rdio
Dan Frackowiak came to Memphis this weekend to see the house Elvis made famous. He never expected everyone to be talking about a different Elvis house.
"I've been waiting my whole life," Frackowiak, of Houston, Texas, said Sunday afternoon about his first visit to Memphis and Graceland. He spoke while standing outside the house
Elvis owned before Graceland, the much more modest one-story, wood-frame house at 1034 Audubon Drive in East Memphis that Presley bought in 1956 with proceeds from his
hit, "Hearbreak Hotel."
The house received heavy damage from a Saturday morning fire, damage estimated by fire officials at $100,000. The blaze in the unoccupied house was blamed on an overloaded
outlet in the living and dining room area.
Frackowiak and his family had planned on visiting the Audubon home Saturday — the day of the fire — but changed plans and drove instead to Tupelo to see Elvis' birthplace.
"My daughter-in-law was online and saw it had burned," Kathryn Frackowiak, Dan's mother, said. "It was so sad to hear this had happened."
So after the Saturday drive to Tupelo, the family decided to see the damage for themselves Sunday after a morning stop at Sun Records. They'll wrap up their visit Monday where
they started it, at Graceland, when they check out of the recently opened 450-room The Guest House at Graceland hotel.
Sunday afternoon, though, the only thing on Frackowiak's mind was the damaged piece of Elvis history on a wooded East Memphis street.
"I know so much about Elvis," Frackowiak mused as he pointed to the brick and wrought iron along the front of the house, gate now locked. "There was no fence here originally, and
all the kids would come. It really infuriated the neighbors. All the kids would come up and look in the windows, but Elvis didn't care. Gladys (Elvis' mother) would invite the kids to
come in and sit down to visit."
The home is now owned by Mike Curb, a music industry veteran and philanthropist. Rhodes College serves as steward for the property through the Curb Institute for Music at
Rhodes. John Bass, executive director of the institute, said Sunday it will likely be several days before he is able to get inside and fully assess what is expected to be significant
Fortunately, Bass said, the furniture, while from the period, wasn't Elvis' furniture. And it wasn't in the house, anyway, because it had been moved before Saturday's fire to a
temporary storage unit on the driveway while workers repaired damage from a January pipe leak.
Frackowick, his mother and wife Amy Frackowick were sorry the house burned, but they were glad if it had to happen that they were able to be here the weekend a piece of Elvis
history made news.
"I've been an Elvis fan my whole life," Kathryn Frackowiak said. "This is my third time to Graceland. The first time, I jumped over the fence and took two leaves out of the yard."