A historic property once owned by Elvis Presley has been damaged by fire.

The single story house at 1034 Audobon Drive, Memphis, was empty and undergoing maintenance work when the blaze erupted on Saturday.

Local fire chiefs said the electrical fire began in a wall between the living room and dining room. They were called at 7.30am and had the blaze under control in 20 minutes.

The house is owned by music industry mogul Mike Curb, who founded the Curb Institute for Music at Rhodes College.

The organisation sometimes the property use to host events and small concerts. The Institute's executive director, John Bass, told the Commercial Appeal the fire damage "seems pretty extensive".

Neighbour Ron McCrarey told the newspaper "all the walls are blackened". An official damage report has not been filed.

However, no Presley-era artefacts are believed to have been damaged because renovations work meant items in the house were secured in a different location.

Presley lived in the house with his parents for a pivotal year in his life. Using royalties from his first number one record, Heartbreak Hotel, he bought it in 1956 for $29,500 at the age of just 22.

Despite his fast rising status in the public eye, the property Presley chose was in a quiet suburban area. It fast became a magnet for visiting fans and photographers, hoping to catch a glimpse of the rock 'n' roll star.

The attention became too much and a year later Presley moved to his famous Gracelands mansion.