Mystery Castle is located in South Phoenix, in the foothills of South Mountain Park. The “Castle” was built in the 1930s by Boyce Luther Gulley for his daughter Mary Lou Gulley. After being diagnosed with tuberculosis, Gulley unexpectedly left his wife and daughter and moved to Phoenix, Arizona. There, he began building a home to give to his daughter. He lived much longer than expected and spent 15 years building the 8,000 square foot (743 squared meters), 3-story ‘castle’. In 1945, Bruce Gully passed away and left the house to his teenage daughter, Mary Lou, and her mother. They both moved in shortly after and Mary Lou still lives there today.
The real story however, is not why Boyce Gulley built the house, but how! The Mystery Castle is made entirely of found and inexpensive materials, featuring everything from automobile parts, to telephone poles, to rail tracks. The majority of the house is made of stone and adobe, and is said to be held together through a combination of cement, sand, calcium, and goat’s milk. The house remains unfinished, containing 18 rooms, 13 fireplaces, a chapel, a wishing well, and a dungeon.
The Gulley family’s story attracted significant media attention. Soon after moving in, Mary Lou and her mother began offering tours of their house. With hidden historic treasures built into every room, the house quickly become a popular tourist location. Today it is considered a Phoenix Point of Pride, one of 33 attractions that are supposed to represent the best of Phoenix. Mary Lou still resides in the house and although visitors are not permitted to enter her room, she often meets with and talks to tour groups when she is healthy and able.