Oddities, Mystery Castle, Arizona
This stone castle is a phoenix gem and a must see if you are in the valley. The craftsmanship is pretty amazing with all kinds of stone and brick work throughout the mansion. The guest house was off limits at the time we visited because Mary was living in the quarters. She was still alive when we visited in 2009.
Mystery Castle is a Phoenix Point of Pride, named as such by the Phoenix Pride Commission. It was built by Boyce Luther Gulley, who abandoned his wife and daughter in 1930 after learning that he had tuberculosis. He travelled to Phoenix and started building a "castle" for the little girl he'd left behind. Mary Lou Gulley was a toddler when her father unexpectedly left and never returned.
A year after Boyce left his family he began building his castle. For 16 years he labored alone, gathering stone, water and mixing mortar to build the castle. In his spare time he worked as a shoe salesman to make money for materials and made frequent trips to Mexico collecting Aztec brick and other materials to build his dream house. In 1945 he wrote Mary Lou, by then a 22 year old woman from his deathbed, telling her about the castle he built for her.
When Mary Lou and her mother came to Phoenix to claim the estate they found an 18 room mansion with store malls and many secrets. One of the many secrets they discovered was a hole in the shower hidden behind a small rock. Once opened $74 dollars in nickels and dimes, gold nuggets, precious stones, and $20 bills poured out. But in 1948 she discovered the biggest surprise of all; a trap door containing a box with a picture of her father just before he died, 2 letters, some gold ore and two five hundred dollar bills.
Mary Lou Gulley lived out the rest of her life inside the castle and died on November 3, 2010.