Built with Love: The Mystery Castle in Phoenix, AZ

Exploring the Mystery Castle in Phoenix, AZ || www.onetripatatime.com

And just like that we’ve come to the end of my posts about our long weekend getaway in Phoenix, AZ over Thanksgiving last year. If you’ve missed some posts, or would like to start back at the beginning, please visit my Trip Summary to see how we scheduled everything in.

Exploring the Mystery Castle in Phoenix, AZ || www.onetripatatime.com
{Photo by L}

For today I’d like to share one of the quirkiest places I think I’ve visited yet, not just in Phoenix, but anywhere really- the Mystery Castle.

Built in the foothills of South Mountain Park, the Mystery Castle has an interesting history of how it came to be. Obviously not a castle in the traditional sense of the word, it became known as a castle by a man and his daughter that he built it for.

Exploring the Mystery Castle in Phoenix, AZ || www.onetripatatime.com

The man, Boyce Gully, used to build sandcastles with his young daughter, Mary Lou, and she would always ask him if he could build her a strong castle that wouldn’t wash away like the ones made of sand. Unfortunately Boyce was diagnosed with tuberculosis when she was young and he decided to run away from his family so they wouldn’t catch it. He went all the way to Arizona and started building the castle his daughter had asked him for.

Built with every kind of material imaginable such as stone, adobe, auto parts, old rail tracks, and telephone poles, Boyce managed to scrape and salvage enough materials over the course of many years to make an 18 room castle complete with fireplacesturrets, odd winding staircases, and oodles of nooks and crannies. There is even a chapel, cantina, and a dungeon!

Exploring the Mystery Castle in Phoenix, AZ || www.onetripatatime.com
The Cantina
Exploring the Mystery Castle in Phoenix, AZ || www.onetripatatime.com
Living Room
Exploring the Mystery Castle in Phoenix, AZ || www.onetripatatime.com
In the Kitchen {Photo by L}

In addition to all of these little oddities there are a ton of knick-knacks all over the castle so it really pays to take your time in each room of the tour to study all the details. Along with these Boyce also planted little surprises all through the castle like precious stones, necklaces, gold nuggets, and even some cash. With these treasures Boyce designed some of the furniture and then there is even an original Frank Lloyd Wright sofa! Such contrasts in the items from expensive gems to discarded items, but all of it lovingly selected by Boyce for his little girl’s castle.

Exploring the Mystery Castle in Phoenix, AZ || www.onetripatatime.com

Exploring the Mystery Castle in Phoenix, AZ || www.onetripatatime.com
{Photo by L}

Exploring the Mystery Castle in Phoenix, AZ || www.onetripatatime.com

Sadly Boyce died in 1945 before he could send for his family to join him. His daughter was an adult when she came to find out about what her father had created for her and she moved there to live in her fairy tale castle. Until her death in 2010 she shared her beloved castle by giving tours and today we can still visit it to see just what her father built and learn all about this unique home and it’s own “princess”.

To follow along on our adventures on our Phoenix, AZ Getaway, please feel free to check out these posts:

Phoenix Getaway Trip Summary

Previous Post: A Serene Stroll Through the Desert Botanical Garden

2 Comments

  • This is one of those places on my list that I’ve not made it to yet! I could never make the hours work, but it sounds like things may’ve changed since I last checked. After seeing these photos / reading your description, I’ll definitely have to check again!

    • Oh yes, see if you can make it work. Really the castle itself is just so much stuff that I definitely couldn’t live there myself…but it’s the story behind it that really got me.

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