The dedication of millions of Presley fans worldwide has not diminished four decades since his death on August 16, 1977. Arguably one of the most loyal fans on the planet is Lida Keijzer. She has been industriously constructing one of the most unique personal tributes to Elvis ever—a remarkable miniature Graceland Mansion and grounds. Since May 2015, Keijzer, a resident of Veendam, Netherlands, has been building her own astonishing replica of Presley’s Memphis, Tennessee home. She has received accolades and recognition from across the continents.
Keijzer’s “Mini-Graceland” is bursting with her loving labor and attention to intensive detail. She made her childhood dream come true and it is so unique even Presley’s former wife recognized its distinctiveness.
“Priscilla Presley is coming to the Netherlands this May,” Keijzer told NEWS LEGIT this week. “I am in the process of preparing a photo and video album in hopes of giving it to her. She has also sent me a personal letter of appreciation for my work. I was so proud when I received the letter from her. My hope is that I will be close enough to give her this gift. I am asking all of you to keep me in your Prayers that this will happen for me.”
Careful to authentically capture the Neo-classical mansions Classical-Colonial Revival architectural style, her model includes such features as the traditional entrance portico with four Corinthian columns on the exterior and faithfully fabricated interiors. She continues to perfect her one-of-a-kind dollhouse as she reveals room after of rooms including miniature Elvis jumpsuits and guitars enclosed in show cases and gold album plaques hanging on the walls. Even her tiny piano plays Elvis’ famous romantic song, “Love Me Tender.”
“Overtime it has gone through several renovations,” Keijzer said. “I have re-created the Meditation Garden with angels that I purchased from America, one of my friends was kind enough to handle the transaction for me. I get so many compliments on the Meditation Garden. It is such a peaceful place.”
More recently Keijzer has “added lights throughout the house and the gardens. In the front of the house, I have added trees, by taking real branches from my own trees in my yard to create this look. The addition to the front gates to Graceland that open and play music gives it such an authentic feel. The dining room needed new curtains. It took me some time to find the right color, after all, I want it to look authentic. Then there was the staircase, I had to re-do the detailed work on the side of the stairs leading up to his bedroom. I didn’t like the way it turned out at first, so I just took it all apart and rebuilt it. Now I am happy with how it turned out.”
“For Christmas, I made red curtains for the house, plus I decorated each room with a Christmas tree and other Christmas decorations. The most recent and most costly renovation is the Pool Room. One of my friends visited Graceland and took a close up picture of the fabric in the Pool Room. She mailed the picture to me, then I took it to a fabric store to have the exact design made for my Dollhouse. It required a lot of fabric and money to do this, but I wanted it to look perfect.”
“I continue to work on my Dollhouse every day,” Keijzer said. “Just like caring for my own house, my Graceland Dollhouse requires some attention every day. Working on my Dollhouse is very satisfying, and relaxing to me.”
She said she will “probably never be finished working on my Dollhouse because I am always changing or updating something. Since I have decided to share my Graceland Dollhouse with the world, I have had countless visitors coming to visit and see it in person. The one comment that everyone makes is, they can’t believe how big the house is. My husband and I build a shed to keep my Dollhouse in. My husband also built the large table that the Dollhouse sits on.”
The shed “is locked for protection, plus I have installed a few security cameras. When people come to visit, I ask them to sign my special book. I also encourage them to take pictures. Many people tell me they get the feeling they are at Graceland when they see my creation. It makes me very happy that all of you enjoy my work. After I have completed any part of the Dollhouse, I often think ‘I wonder what Elvis would think of my work’.”
“Every day I still listen to Elvis, his music, the lyrics to his songs have helped me through many areas of my life….good, and bad,” Keijzer told the NEWS LEGIT’s Jack Dennis last year.
“Some of my favorite songs are ‘What Now My Love’, and ‘Separate Ways’. My favorite movie is Blue Hawaii. His music gave me a lot of inspiration. I often dreamed of building Graceland as a dollhouse and as you can see, I made my dream come true.”
“I have never been to Graceland, so all of the things that I have built by hand have been researched by me through books, looking on the Internet, and pictures from around the world,” Keijzer continued. “It is an ongoing process, and it is not finished, I work on some part of it every day. I have worked as much as 10 hours per day building, and designing the house. There are many nights when I go to bed I think about how I can either make a certain piece, change something that I have built or make some part better, my mind is constantly thinking about my Graceland dollhouse.”
Her friend and fan, Caroline Mallaby, an acquaintance of Priscilla Presley (who opened the real Graceland up to the public on June 7, 1982), shared photos of the Mini-Graceland Keijzer is building. Elvis’s former wife, “responded to my email to say how amazing it was,” Mallaby stated. “She was very impressed.”
“I got a response from Priscilla,” Keijzer gushed. “She gave me applause for my piece of laborious artwork. I am so happy.”
Not only is she paying reverence to Presley with her meticulous two-year project, she is honoring the legacy of his fans by actually replicating the famous pink Alabama fieldstone wall surrounding the grounds of the mansion. At the real wall, fans have been writing their names and messages of admiration for years. Keijzer’s duplication includes written words with the names of her “Elvis friends.”
Becky Yancey, an actual secretary for Elvis and his father, Vernon Presley, at Graceland, has her name inscribed on Keijzer’s wall. A quick sampling of other names are such super fans as Jeanett Russo, Vera Burford of New South Wales, Kathy Savelio, Mariangela of Brazil, Celina, Jane Green of Italy, and Sherry Evans from Indiana, USA.
“Elvis touched each of us in a special way,” she told them. “We all love and miss him dearly. I am honored that each of you allowed me to write your names on my Graceland wall. Your names are forever written in the stone on my Graceland wall and in my heart. Thank you again my friends from around the world.”
“My Graceland dollhouse is completely hand made by me,” Keijzer stated. “I taught myself to make things by hand. When I was younger I would see something that I liked. I would come home and try to duplicate it by myself. The items in the house are made out of wood, glass, and plastic. It measures 40” high, 48” wide, 24” deep. It takes hours to make some of the more delicate items. It doesn’t always come out the way that I want it to on the first time, so I re-do it.”
“I call it my ‘Labor of Love for Elvis’,” Keijzer proudly proclaimed. “As I work on my Graceland dollhouse, I imagine what it would be like to have lived there during the time when he was alive. I still have one dream that I know will come true. I dream of one day going to Graceland to be able to be so close to Elvis’ personal belongings. The way I knew I would build my own Graceland dollhouse, I also know that I will go to Graceland one day…..I don’t know how it will happen, I just know that I have faith that I will stand in his house one day.”
When news was shared that Priscilla Presley was pleased with the Mini-Graceland, many fans congratulated her. “Well deserved for all the hours, love and thought you have put into this,” offered Allison Beck of Birmingham, United Kingdom. “To top it all, you have also allowed us to be part of it by kindly putting our names on your wall. Very, very happy for you.”