We can’t believe how many times we have visited Arizona, and yet we didn’t know anything about the mystery castle. It is probably quite high on our list of oddest places we have ever seen. The castle is basically made of a jumble of materials such as automobile parts, mine rail tracks, telephone poles etc – mostly items that the builder found (we believe the local dump was nearby) or at very low cost.
So who would build such a place and why? Boyce Gully lived in small apartment in Seattle with his wife and child, Mary Lou, when he was given the news that he had tuberculosis and that he was dying. He chose not to live a life waiting to die, so he ran away to Arizona, leaving his family and friends. Etched in his memory was building sandcastles on the beach in Seattle with his little girl and his promise of building a real castle someday. Boyce lived longer than he though he would and spend 15 years building his dream house, one which would have 18 rooms and 13 fireplaces.
Boyce died in 1945 (interestingly not of TB) before he could send for his family. His wife and Mary Lou (now an adult) were notified by an attorney that they had inherited the property. Shortly after that, the mother and daughter moved in.
Boyce left instructions that there was a trap door in the house that should not be opened for two years after his death. The trap door, located in a room that was called Purgatory (between the chapel and the bar). In 1948 the trap door was opened and the mystery revealed – it was the deeds to the Castle for his daughter.
Mary Lou lived in the castle from 1948 until her death in 2010. For most of that time, Mary Lou gave guided tours of her home – it is a real shame we didn’t discover the castle sooner as we bet she would have been fascinating to talk to. Apparently, they didn’t want it to be public knowledge that she lived in such a remote place alone, so they made up people who were supposedly living in the castle with her. She also had a special staircase to her bedroom, which was very narrow with sharp turns, making an approach from an intruder difficult – sadly we were not allowed to see this.
The Mystery Castle used to be a popular place to hold weddings and it is believed that if the bride leaves one shoe, forever the groom will be true! However, in the mid 2000’s Mary Lou decided that no more weddings would be held at the castle.
Here are some of the shoes left behind the brides!
We were then lead to the guest suite which had a painting of Mary Lou!
The roll away bed was probably quite innovative for the time – Boyce used old railway tracks to easily roll the bed!
The kitchen was a real eye opener, just look at the built-in double oven – you wouldn’t have to cook anything that needed to be level!
Outside are wonderful views of the city.
And of a mountain which Mary Lou called here on MGM Mountain as she thought it looked like a lion.
The patio, complete with well and barbecue!
Boyce Gulley built a frame around the view of downtown Phoenix. When he built the frame you could see all of Phoenix when you looked through it, now not so much!
Electricity and plumbing wasn’t added until 1992 and even then, it is only the odd bulb here and there!
A very strange day out, but interesting in its own right.