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Mystery Castle, Phoenix

Categories: Castles, Mysterious Sites, Tourist Spots
Inspirock Rating:
3.8/5 based on 220+ reviews on the web
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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  • When you drive up you may notice the barbed-wire on the fence around it, mostly due to the area it's located in and to protect the hundreds of valuable antiques inside. Be sure you are able to navigat...  read more »
  • I enjoyed going here because it is quite unique. It is built with a lot of recycled material. The castle was built for a man's daughter. 
  • I relied on the hours listed on tripadvisor and drove half an hour from Phoenix. The site is only open from October through May. Doublecheck before you make the drive. 
  • This place is so cool!! The story behind it and it's history are one of a kind. You can read all about it, but it's so much better to visit in person and hear about it from somebody who knew the longtime inhabitant.
  • Enjoyed a wonderful backstory while guided through a beautiful stone mansion. The views are great over the valley while the artsy mansion is even more creatively unique. Insipiring and creatively uplifting little place to visit, definietly a Phoenix bucketlist item.
  • We had an awesome time visiting this little piece of Arizona history. The story behind it is both sad and amazing. The tour guides are so friendly and knowledgeable about the house and it's history. The views are beautiful as well. We really enjoyed visiting and will definitely be back again someday!
  • Wonderful true fairytale about the labor of love! Absolutely fascinating to gaze upon this piece of architecture and think that it was built by one man with a duration of 15 years in the making! My kids really enjoyed it and we will definitely return! One of those places where you see something new every time you go and we are fortunate enough to reside close to this castle! Historical Phoenix gem and the stunning views of South Mountain and downtown alone are worth the trip!
  • Very interesting place to visit, guides are good, lots of interesting facts to listen to and the view back towards Phoenix is beautiful.
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