Mystery Castle
"A Castle for his Princess"

800 E. Mineral Rd.

Phoenix, AZ 85040 1-602-268-1581

March 30, 2001

In our travels we have visited a number of towns that feature houses/castles that were built because of love (or lack of it). Mystery Castle is one of those love stories. In this instance we were fortunate to have our good friends, Sue and Lynn Davis, touring with us. I had heard about the Mystery Castle some time ago on a program on TV and made it a point to go looking for it. After getting directions we drove to the south-west part of Phoenix Arizona. It was there that we found the following story: In 1929, Boyce Gulley sat in his Seattle home contemplating the decision he had made. He had recently been diagnosed with the dreaded death sentence of Tuberculosis. Not wanting to drag his wife and three year old daughter through the agony of what he perceived as his future, Our Friend SueBoyce gathered his courage and his belongings and slipped away in the night to Phoenix, Az., thus starting one of the most beautiful love stories and oddities every recorded. With his last few pennies, he picked up a mining claim of some 80 acres in the foothills of South Mountain, just outside the city. For the next 16 years he would build a castle by hand while waiting to die of the disease he had been diagnosed with. Armed with two years of architectural engineering at a Texas college, and little money, he began by using naturally found material in the area and old abandoned artifacts found in various scavenging trips to the Southwest and Mexico. If there ever was a master plan, it was never disclosed. Year after year the work went on. His memory of his daughter burning deeply in his thoughts. Times when the two of them built sand castles on the Pacific beaches. Times when she cried as the tide washed them back into the sea. The Castle he built for her, never again to be washed away, began to grow. With never a letter or contact home, he lived out his life in his strange and beautiful creation until 1945 when he was thrown by a horse into a cactus bush. Somewhat used to such inconveniences, he brushed himself off and ignored the pains of stings and bruises, including the sharp pain in his belly, caused by an undiscovered cactus needle which penetrated his abdomen and pierced an internal organ. He continued his dream over the next several weeks, as he grew steadily weaker from the infection raging inside. He died still dreaming of his lovely daughter and the castle she would someday inherit, maybe after he finished the pool. Mary Lou Gulley first caught sight of her Castle on a balmy day in 1945 right after she had turned 18 when she and her mother arrived to receive her inheritance. She has been there ever since. While her father's dream was of building a castle for "his little princess" Mary Lou will tell you that the castle is as much a tribute to Phoenix as it is to her. When she arrived she saw a number of artifacts donated by famous persons who had seen the castle and wanted Mr. Gulley to have something of theirs. One of these includes a kerchief from John Wayne. Now 56 years later, she spends her days giving tours to the some 20,000 people a year who come by to see the "Castle made from Love" more popularly known as "The Mystery Castle". We caughtMary Lou with picture of Father up with Mary Lou as she was starting a tour. My first impression of her was a head under a floppy bush hat, popping over the terrace wall as she beckoned us "Come on, I'm just getting started". Though age and the elements had worked their evil, they had done little to dampen the beauty radiated by this bouncy 100 pounder. Within five minutes of our meeting, it was obvious that Mary Lou had inherited far more then a Castle. It is at these times that I enjoy myself most, without announcing our intentions, we slipped into the group of 10 or so tourists. We passed from room to room. In a somewhat matter-of-fact- voice that failed to conceal the energetic tones of a woman charged with life, we learned of the strange directions the dream building took. We had a great time visiting with Mary Lou and hearing the story of her castle. Don't miss stopping by this one if you get in the area.

Good Luck! Have Fun! and Stay Safe!