Mystery Castle, Phoenix

#5 of 13 in Historic Sites in Phoenix
Castle · Hidden Gem · Mysterious Site
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.
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Mystery Castle reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.0
389 reviews
  • The entire experience is very eclectic. I have never seen a hand built castle. The guides were very pleasant and knowledgeable. The decor was extremely interesting and you have to be willing to...  more »
  • What an interesting experience! Cash only, porta potty only. Be prepared for uneven footing and stairs. This would NOT be a place to take a stroller, wheelchair, or walker. The tour guide and other staff were fantastic! So knowledgeable on the history of the property! They provide an interesting tour and are happy to chat further about any questions. Our family had fun learning the history and trying to imagine what it would have been like to build and live on this property.
  • This is a very interesting place to visit. Built by a man in the early 1900s mostly using only things he got for free or found on his own. He was innovative in the design and the working of the primitive house systems, albeit eccentric. And the view of Phoenix off in the distance is phenomenal It's worth a visit.

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