WACO, Texas – The brick house nestled on a corner on Lasker Avenue in Waco looks unassuming, but past its unique screen door cast with a hip-gyrating silhouette lies a little slice of musical history.
The house once served as a weekend getaway for Elvis Presley while he was stationed at Fort Hood in the late 1950’s – right at the peak of superstardom.
Presley met Eddie Fadal, a Dallas-based DJ who lived in Waco, in 1956. Fadal was drawn to the young star, and in his friendly nature gave him a warm offer.
“When [Eddie Fadal] met Elvis, he was really impressed by him and said, ‘Look, I live in Waco, which is about 100 miles from here. If you’re ever in Waco, I’d love to have you to the house,” Eddie’s daughter, Janice Fadal said.
Little did Fadal know how welcoming an offer that would be for Presley. By the time the rock star was stationed at Fort Hood, Fadal had built an extension on the house for Presley to crash after long weeks of drills.
The room was painted pink and black, Presley’s favorite colors, and were always stashed with his favorite cigars and records.
Janice Fadal was just a little girl at the time, but can still remember his trips to their family home.
“In some of our home movies, you can actually see me dancing a little bit like a little child would dance, and Elvis is tapping his feet to the music,” Janice Fadal said.
She said Presley tried to make his visits as low-key as possible. He’d catch up on sleep, listen to records, and he and his then-girlfriend Anita Wood would enjoy home-cooked southern cooking. He even brought some of his own additions to the menu.
“He introduced us to the peanut butter and banana sandwich, which we had never heard of such a thing,” Janice Fadal said. “After that, mom would make those for him.”
It was not easy to keep word of Elvis coming to town a secret.
Janice Fadal tells stories of Presley trying to see his friend perform in the movie No Time for Sergeants at the Hippodrome. After her father told the theater owner they would be bringing Presley and to keep it quiet, word got out. She says Presley couldn’t stay for the whole movie, as a swarm of people descended on him with just minutes left, and Eddie Fadal had to pull the car around for the music legend to make his escape.
Even at the family home, Presley would have to come in through the back door. He would also check every room in the house to make sure it was just the Fadal family inside.
“When people in the neighborhood would see black limousines parked outside our house, that was kind of a clue that someone pretty special was visiting,” Janice Fadal said. “Our phone would really ring off the wall, and people would come and gather in the front yard. They would gather in the backyard. It was a frenzy.”
Janice Fadal also remembers children loitering on the roof of the home to get a glimpse of Elvis. The family also had to unlist their phone number because of the constant calls.
“People wanted to see Elvis,” Janice Fadal said. “He was the hottest thing on the planet.”
After she and her brother Dana thought of selling the house in 2017, Janice Fadal came up with the idea to make the house an Air BnB and make it a shrine to Elvis and the time he spent there.
Now, fans can get the full experience. They can sleep where he slept, eat where he ate, and even use the same shower.
Janice Fadal also claims to be the only woman in America to wipe off a kiss from “The King” himself after he gave her a smooch shortly after eating a sweet pickle.
“He had sweet pickle lips and they were cold. It was sticky. It was icky,” Janice Fadal, who was four years old at the time, said. “I’ve pretty much regretted it ever since.”
The Fadal family home was no “Heartbreak Hotel” for Presley, as it’s been affectionately dubbed his “home away from home.”
After Presley’s mother Gladys died in 1958, Eddie Fadal planted a tree in her memory on the front lawn. It still stands today.
“He felt he could trust us,” Janice Fadal said of Presley. “He loved being around children. He loved being around my mom and dad. And they were kind of role models for him in a way.”
Looking back on it, Janice Fadal can hardly believe it was real.
“It was very unique and very special that someone in his position would have come to our home and hung out,” Janice Fadal said. “It almost seems like a dream to have been a part of that. It was such a different time and place. But what a very special time. And I feel privileged to be a part of it.”
Janice and Dana Fadal published a book about Presley’s time at their family home, complete with pictures and stories.
You can book a stay at the Elvis House here.