Fan wants to turn Elvis' old home in Palm Springs, Calif., into tourist draw

Sunday, August 12, 2007

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- 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.

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

"I want this to be Elvis of California," he 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 in April 1970. The family, including daughter Lisa Marie, lived there part-time.

After his death, Presley's lawyer took control of the estate. It was not immediately known whether anyone lived in the house before the Fontanas bought it.

The house is already 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.

Fontana says he'll provide a look to anyone who knocks on the door. Right now, there's 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."

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