The Mystery Castle is a landmark in Phoenix, Arizona, and a must see for tourists interested in eclectic architecture. It is an 8000 square foot home, built primarily from salvaged materials, by the eccentric Boyce Luther Gulley. When Gulley was given a diagnosis of tuberculosis in the early 20th century, he left his wife and daughter and made his way to Phoenix, where he gradually pieced together the Mystery Castle.
Today, the Mystery Castle is still inhabited by Mary Lou Gulley, Boyce’s daughter, who remembers how her father once promised to build her a castle. Unlike other castles in the air, this one became a true castle, though Mary Lou and her father were not fated to enjoy it together. Mary Lou and Boyce's wife were unaware of the castle until after Boyce's death. Though saddened, they loved his castle with its 18 rooms, and decided to reside there.
This strange story of love, abandonment and the fulfillment of promises are recalled by the Mystery Castle, which features many different bizarre architectural details. It’s considered a Phoenix Point of Pride and is open to visitors from October to mid-June. It is closed during the warmer summer months as the hot weather can make the home uncomfortably hot. Visitors who love the Mystery Castle recommend calling to check availability of tours, prices, and open days.
Mary Lou leads some of the tours, while guides lead others. Since she moved there as a teenager, Mary Lou is well acquainted with all the ins and outs of this interesting building. Each room has different features and surprises. For instance, Frank Lloyd Wright donated certain furniture items for some of the rooms. All rooms tend to dazzle with their unusual craftsmanship. You’ll find curios of all sorts, homemade bricks, and what would have been considered “junk” or scrap used in most creative fashion.
The Mystery Castle isn’t really much of a castle in the traditional sense — its outside architecture doesn’t suggest “castle” to most enthusiasts. The outside sight may at first discourage visitors, though it does feature one turret. Inside, there is so much scope for the imagination, and perhaps the only mystery regarding it is why Gulley abandoned wife and child and did not contact them during the last years of his life. Instead he devoted most of his time to building this castle he’d once imagined with his young daughter.