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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Mystery Castle Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 3.5
295 reviews
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4.2
TripAdvisor
  • My 12year old daughter and I went to visit one day and we were glad we did even at an hour drive. We both thought it was interesting and seeing how all the different recycled material was reused. It i...  more »
  • Very interesting place -- amazing use of reclaimed & discarded materials in building the castle. Tour guides are knowledgeable & happy to answer questions. The tour has a starting point, but we joined...  more »
  • Awesome story behind the creation of this "castle" in Phoenix. You'll go back in time when Phoenix was not much more than a dot on the map. This castle was created by a man who came to the desert beca...  more »
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  • 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.
  • There was lots of love still emanating through those stones and a solid foundation which will defy time. Boyce made things out out of nothing. He was king of the poor Frank Lloyd Wright of his generation. F.L.Wright was entirely sponsored by his wife's wealth, thus could materialize his ingenuity. Imagine if Boyce had been given the same opportunity!
  • This is great place! There is an informative tour, with lots of cools things to check out. If you like architecture, its fascinating to see how this place was built
  • Sure, it's an interesting piece of Arizona history, but for $10, I guess I expected more. It is cash only, $10/adult and $5/kid, and the "gift shop" has very little available in terms of commemorative items. I would suggest they have postcards made. I didn't even notice if there was a bathroom available, but I doubt it.
  • My Husband and me went for a drive and he remember a castle in south Phx. And sure enough it was there but it was Closed., can't remember if it was holiday that day, from the outside it look nice.

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