Mystery Castle, Phoenix

3.8
#4 of 7 in Historic Sites in Phoenix
Mystery Castle is located in the city of Phoenix, Arizona, in the foothills of South Mountain Park. It was built in the 1930s by Boyce Luther Gulley for his daughter Mary Lou Gulley. After learning he had tuberculosis, Gulley moved from Seattle to the Phoenix area and began building the house from found or inexpensive materials. Boyce Gulley died in 1945, and Mary Lou and her mother were notified by attorney that they had inherited the property. Shortly after, the mother and daughter moved in.Their story attracted attention, giving the home some notoriety as well as its exotic name: A Life Magazine story (January 26, 1948) used the headline "Life Visits a Mystery Castle: A Young Girl Rules Over the Strange Secrets of a Fairy Tale Dream House in the Arizona Desert." The photograph featured Mary Lou posing atop the cantilever staircase leading to the roof of the house. That same year, Mary Lou and her mother began offering tours of the home.ConstructionSaid to be held together by a combination of mortar, cement, calcium, and goat milk, the sprawling 18-room, three story castle is built from a wide range of materials — stone, adobe, automobile parts, salvaged rail tracks from a mine, telephone poles, etc. It features a chapel, cantina, and a dungeon. Parts of the castle remain unfinished, and electricity and plumbing weren't added until 1992. As the housing boom progressed in Phoenix, new development encroached close to the castle and its grounds, making it far less isolated.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
281 reviews
Google
4.4
TripAdvisor
  • June 29, 2017
    The girls loved this attraction - guys not so much - story that goes with castle upsetting and heart warming in one - the tour is on going so it does not matter when you arrive  more »
  • June 21, 2017
    I thought this place was amazing! For someone to do this so many years ago and to manage life without all the modern technology! Wow! I admit I could not be that person but you have to give credit whe...  more »
  • May 26, 2017
    Mystery Castle will close for the summer. It does open up in the fall. You can explore or take a tour, I suggest take a tour then explore. This place needs to be on the Historical register. What a qui...  more »
Google
  • June 22, 2017
    A quirky cool place to visit at least once and a great place to bring out of town visitors. The guides are knowledgeable. The view of the city is spectacular. Wear tennis shoes as the staircases are steep and narrow and the floors are uneven.
  • June 13, 2017
    Had a great time--love the stories snd the house is really intetesting.
  • February 11, 2017
    Fun and strange little attraction at the base of South Mountain... Take the tour, listen to the story, admire the strange architecture and have a good time... Tour lasts a little over a hour...
  • December 24, 2016
    Amazing place. Guided tour was great and views were amazing. A MUST SEE! and will definitely go back!
  • January 6, 2017
    Absolutely awesome. The tour guides are so knowledgeable and draw you in. The castle itself is stunning.

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