Mystery Castle, Phoenix

3.9
#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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Mystery Castle Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 3.5
287 reviews
Google
4.4
TripAdvisor
  • knocked out by the "design" of the castle, could not put my camera away. glad to learn her history and unique character.  more »
  • Not really knowing what to expect. I found the castle very interesting the history of how became a castle is also very interesting . I would not want to live their with no real bathroom and no running...  more »
  • Make sure you have good directions. We didn't see a sign until we were there, and it's past a residential area. It's worth the drive. It has an unexpected story that adds to the mystique of this place...  more »
Google
  • 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.
  • Had a great time--love the stories snd the house is really intetesting.
  • 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...
  • Amazing place. Guided tour was great and views were amazing. A MUST SEE! and will definitely go back!
  • Absolutely awesome. The tour guides are so knowledgeable and draw you in. The castle itself is stunning.

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