Mystery Castle, Phoenix

3.8
#4 of 9 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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Mystery Castle Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 3.5
299 reviews
Google
4.2
TripAdvisor
  • The story behind Mystery Castle is fascinating. I visited the castle with my grand-kids and since I am familiar with it's history i did not take the tour. However, for those who not familiar with the ...  more »
  • Wow, I was pleasantly surprised. The tour was excellent, the guide also answers your questions. He actually knew the daughter who lived here. Everywhere you look there is a personal touch. The father ...  more »
  • This was my second visit here, bringing my husband and snowbird friends. We arrived at 11 am & we were surprised how busy they were. Juan Carlos, our guide, did a good job describing how the house was...  more »
Google
  • The majority of the 5 stars reviews absolutely have to be fake. The story behind the "castle" holds zero historical significance, has a lot of holes in it, and is overall pretty vague. The castle is a poorly constructed stone home that is just filled with garbage. It is honestly kind of surprising that people come to visit this site so often and I applaud the marketing team behind Mystery Castle for building an online presence. Unfortunately, unless you want to pay money to look at garbage, don't waste your time with the Mystery Castle.
  • Absolutely glad I visited this place! Not wheelchair accessible. Some stairs. Sad story behind how this place,was built. Architecture is reminiscent of the House on the Rock in Wisconsin. Gift shop is quirky, just like the rest of the house.
  • The knowledge of our tour guide was great. I think $10 was too much for what we saw. A lot of areas need to be improved while still keeping the authenticity.
  • A fun 45 minute tour. The guide was great and the castle is an artistic construction mixing Native American, Mexican, and Spanish elements. Great view of Phoenix skyline.
  • I love history and this is an awesome place to experience and learn some pretty cool history. The Mystery Castle is amazing! Tons of thing to see.... look in every corner, on the floors, on the ceiling... I'm sure you will miss things... And want to go back again... You will want to take your friends to see this. I'd love to live in a place like this even now. A chapel and a bar? Yes! Not really that you can use, but they were at one point in time. Please visit this place and help support an awesome landmark and piece of or history. The tour guides are very knowledgeable, and have so many things to tell you, but you will still ha e questions. Don't be afraid to ask, there wasn't one question they weren't able to answer, but so many things there they can't possibly tell you about everything, or it might take days! I loved this visit. Check the hours on their webpage, and have cash for the entry, no cards.
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