Phoenix, Arizona: Mystery CastleBoyce Luther Gulley started building the 5-story castle out of junk in 1930, in secret, as a gift to his daughter Mary Lou. She conducted tours until her death Nov. 3, 2010; the Mystery Castle Historical Foundation continues.
- 800 E Mineral Rd, Phoenix, AZ
- I-10 exit 155. East on Baseline Rd for 5.5 miles. Turn south onto 7th St. for 1.5 miles. At the end of the street, turn left onto Mineral Rd to get to the Castle. Golf courses and gated communities are being built up to the edge of the Mystery Castle desert property.
- Th-Su, 11 am - 4 pm. Oct-Jun. Closed on very rainy days. Steep Steps. (Call to verify)
- RA Rates:
- Worth a Detour
Visitor Tips and News About Mystery Castle
This attraction has become a business and the admission charge has doubled. What once may have been interesting has now become a tourist rip-off. I was less than pleased with this tour.[G. Clouse, 03/04/2012]
I'm sad to report that Mary Lou Gulley passed away on Nov 3, 2010. It sounds like a foundation is going to continue to make the Castle available for tours. I'm just glad that my family was lucky enough back in the day, to have Mary Lou as our guide as we visited her home/castle.[Paul Williams, 12/21/2010]
The Mystery Castle Historical Foundation plans to continue tours.
I have been to the house three times and listened to what the tour guides had to say, so here is the basic story behind the house:
The man that built it had a wife and daughter in Seattle, came down with tuberculosis, and made the decision to come to Arizona, partly because that's what people with TB did back in those days. Phoenix was a mecca for people with TB (the area now known as Sunnyslope in north Phoenix had its beginnings as a hospital camp for TB patients and their families).
He built the house and spent many years adding on -- my guess is he was like me and liked to stay busy and express himself. I think this is what brought him back to health. He was an artist and his house became one huge work of art. He built it with his daughter in mind as well and this is evident in many of the choices he made in construction. He actually recovered from TB after several years, but didn't return home to his family. Ironically he died of cancer shortly after recovering from TB.
Much of the things you see used in construction came from a dump that was nearby. He was very creative with materials and really ahead of his time in some cases; there are some windows made out of square glass dishes and it strongly resembles glass block like we see today in many homes. There is also a cemetery, wishing well,and chapel in the house.
I loved the tour and loved the man's daughter who still lives in the house. If you go, don't go to see a castle or a house -- go to see a work of art that functions as a home, and go to hear this family story.[Richard, 11/07/2007]
Mystery Castle is still only $5. The granddaughter is one of the tour guides and she is very interesting. The whole house is a marvel and could not be built today because of building codes. The most interesting fact is that it is built on top of a gold mine. The man who built it got the land for mining; stipulations then were that the land had to be improved -- thus the house and the mine had to be mined enough to assay it each year.
The house has been inventoried and photos made of all the contents. The guide told us it was a museum with all the old Native American artifacts in the house.[Becky, 03/05/2007]
The Castle was the highlight of our trip. The owner's father left home when she was 1 year old and was gone for 15 years until he died, at which time she was 16 and was informed about the castle he had built for her. It was awesome. She does still give tours and has a very sharp tongue should you ask a dumb question. She does, however encourage questions. Extremely interesting story and the best part is that she lives there year round despite the snakes, etc. She has built herself a place above the toured spot, where she does have air conditioning, but no plumbing![Flanal Colburn, 10/29/2005]