Building Where ‘The Colonel’ Made Elvis a Star Can’t Find A Buyer To Save It

Sep 24, 2015

No doubt about it: In one unsuspecting Madison home office, Elvis was definitely in the building.

But now the site where “Colonel” Tom Parker made Elvis Presley a star has been named to a list of Nashville’s endangered historic properties as the desire to save history runs up against the skyrocketing value of the corner lot.

The stone building is unspectacular in terms of architecture, but stories of Elvis linger, says attorney Steve North, who has owned the building and used it as a law office for 20 years.

“We would drive by that property and we would look to see if the pink Cadillac was there,” said North, a Madison native. “If it was there, we knew Elvis was in town and if we would hang around, we would see Elvis out in the yard, raking leaves, or doing whatever.”

Inside, the shrewd and eccentric Parker managed the Elvis empire for decades.

“Some of the most important decisions in the history of American entertainment took place right there,” North said. “But so far, not a single person has come forward interested in buying the property because of the building.”

A second building behind the office stored Elvis fan club letters and memorabilia for decades.
Credit Historic Nashville Inc.

North, who is 74 and retiring, has tried to sell for years. He has turned down offers because he’s been seeking a buyer who wants to protect the building — including its vintage wall-to-wall wood paneling in rooms where Elvis played pool and where his fan letters piled up.

“I’ve had hundreds of people say, ‘Oh, it’d be a shame to tear this down.’ But not one of those hundreds of people said, ‘I want to buy this property so that I can preserve it,’ ” he said.

North says he’s now at a point where he’ll sell — even if it means the home is bulldozed.

That worries preservationists, who are finding that when it comes to real estate, sometimes old stories are a tough sell.