Did you know there’s a castle in Arizona? One with a bizarre, yet heartwarming past and made from some of the most random stuff at that! It’s dubbed one of Phoenix’s most unusual finds, thanks to its quirky features and plethora of artifacts, antiques and knick-knacks. It’s truly one-of-a-kind!
The History of Phoenix’s Mystery Castle
The history of why and how the castle was built is nearly as fascinating as the castle itself. It was a dying man’s creativity and soul-searching quest that ultimately lead to the creation of this magnificent structure—a powerful culmination of grief, determination and pure love.
Reeling from the discovery of his tuberculosis diagnosis in 1927, Boyce Luther Gulley abruptly ran away from his wife and daughter in Seattle to the warm, dry climate of Phoenix in hopes that his grim future would remain his own burden. With determination at the helm and love in his heart, Gulley worked day and night to build his daughter, Mary Lou, something she always dreamed of—a big and strong castle that she could someday live in. And what an amazing castle he built!
Unfortunately Gully died in 1945 before he could send for his family, but his will left Mary Lou the desert mansion he’d spent 15 years building. In the end, albeit through some heartbreaking circumstances, Mary Lou found her fairytale ending. She moved into the castle as an adult, where she lived and gave tours until her death in 2010.
The Rooms in the Mystery Castle
You’ll find curiosities all throughout this three-story, 18-room native stone castle. With a total of 13 fireplaces, winding staircases, parapets and many charming nooks and crannies, it’s truly a sight to behold.
The castle was built using only salvaged materials—auto parts, random “junk”, and other unique artifacts Gulley found laying around. It’s evident that Gulley was a revolutionary artist and dedicated recycler. The castle’s furnishings are similarly peculiar and add an even more eclectic feel to the home. You’ll see everything from southwestern antiques, Navajo baskets and pet rocks to dolls, cat statues and abstract paintings. The brilliant mind of this castle’s maker made clearer with each step you take.
Be on the lookout for original Frank Lloyd Wright furniture, including a sofa, as well as items from John Wayne in the bar room, and a pair of his blue jeans hanging from the ceiling in the “Levi room.”
Touring the Mystery Castle
The castle is open to the public, at the personal request of Mary Lou. During her time living at the castle, she found many hidden treasures that her father had left her. Coins hidden in loose stones in the wall; necklaces, cash, gold and personal notes from her father found in a trapdoor; and plenty of other surprises. She wanted to share the wonders of her mystery castle with curiosity seekers near and far, and continue her father’s legacy.
The Mystery Castle is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday through Sunday each week from October through May (except major holidays). Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 5-12.