Places We Have Called Home In 2019

Home Is Where We Park It:   UMOM New Day Centers, Phoenix 

Nov 17, 2109

Temperature 81 Degrees

Mystery Castle of Phoenix

This being Sunday we had a choice, worship in the chapel or pull up the worship service from our home church and join in with them.  We went with the later and were not disappointed.  Pastor Ron always delivers a great message and this one as always did not disappoint.

Next on the morning agenda was breakfast.  It did not disappointed either.  We had waffles with chocolate chips and nuts, juice and a couple of cups of coffee.  Another yummy and tummy filling breakfast.

Our next decision was a big one, go to the wishy washy or go sight-seeing.  Since my T-shirts weren’t running away from me yet, sight-seeing won out.

What a place we found to visit.  It’s called the Mystery Castle of Phoenix.  It’s at the end of a rough dirt road but well worth the trip.



At first sight, the hideaway on the hill looks decrepit and doesn’t impress.  But first impressions can sometimes be deceiving.


As I move up the steps toward it, the curiosities of the creation come into view.  I notice the walls made of all kinds of rocks,


towers with owls on watch


dogs on guard


unusual gates


 windows of all sorts



all kinds of embedded titles


a sun dial with a rather unusual figure on it and next to it a petroglyph etched on rock,


a most unusual jar


a knight in rusted armor,


a wagon wheel embedded in one wall


and this garden.



all this before you even really get to the castle proper.

So how did this unusual place come to be?  How did it get it’s name?

In the late 1920s, Boyce Luther Gulley spent many of his days on the beach with his young daughter Mary Lou, building sandcastles on the shores of Seattle. One day, Mary Lou—troubled by the tide washing away their castle creations—turned to her father and said, Please, daddy, build me a big and strong castle someday that I can live in.

Boyce Luther Gulley, after learning in 1927 that he had tuberculosis abandoned his wife and daughter in Seattle. He traveled to Phoenix and started building a castle that he had promised to his little girl once while building sand castles on a beach.  Boyce Gulley lived longer than he thought he would, and he spent 15 years building his daughter’s castle.

Ok, that explains the castle part.  As for the mystery.  Hold on for a moment.  Believe it or not Gulley’s family back in Seattle never knew where he disappeared to nor what he was building.

In 1945—15 years after the building began—the stately structure was finally complete. That year, Gulley wrote home, revealing his illness, and told his family to come visit him in Phoenix. Unfortunately, Gulley passed away before his family arrived for their long-awaited reunion. He had not revealed any details of the structure in his letters, hoping to surprise his daughter upon arrival. Knowing only that he had left them a home on the hill, Gulley’s wife and daughter moved to Phoenix, seeing the castle for the first time once they arrived.

As for the mystery Boyce Gullet left instructions for his wife and daughter that there was a trap door in the house that should not be opened until two years after his death. His wife and daughter complied with his request. The trap door is located in a room that was called purgatory (between the chapel and the bar!) under a metal statue of an alligator.  When opened they found two $500 bills, letters from Gulley, and other trinkets.


Mary Lou and her mother lived on the property for many years, discovering many other hidden treasures in the nooks and crannies of the castle as the years passed.   This is another small hidden treasure box located in a rafter of the chapel.

Secret Nook

Time now to take a tour.  Barbara is already waiting for us.


The castle is located on the north side of South Mountain, near the site of what was then the town dump. Gulley used salvaged materials, auto parts, junk, and other artifacts he found in the Southwest and in Mexico in the building of his home.  It is a two story building, it has a total of 8.000 square feet, 18 rooms and has 13 fireplaces.  He built it on the fly adding here and there as he went.  He never had a plan, not even a drawing to work from.

This is the where he started in what today is known as the living room.  This is the entrance to it


This is the first fireplace that he built.


A picture of the man himself.


A portrait of Mary Lou over the fireplace.


The living room is  a feast for the eyes, filled with folk art, kitschy cat decor, and eclectic antique collectibles.  You will also notice a lot of stuff in the house, pet rocks, dolls, cat statues, paintings, antiques, and more. Much of it was collected by Mary Lou during her years living at the house. Some of the items are (or were) quite valuable, some not so much. All of the items are exposed, and many tours have come through the house over the years, and so the decor has a tendency to look worn.










The next room that was built was the master bedroom.  The master bedroom combines a wood-carved bed and dresser set, which once belonged to the first governor of Arizona,


with red velvet love seats that were scavenged from the red light district in Jerome, NY. On the love seat sits two large doll figures—a bride and a groom—just two pieces of the puzzling decor found throughout the home.



More from the master bedroom


A picture and information about Mary Lou herself.





Then I found this and my heart melted.


We’re going to stop here tonight.  More to come tomorrow which will be just as interesting as the two rooms we’ve already been in.  Indeed, this is one of the most fascinating private homes we have visited during our travels.

That was our really neat day on The Road of Retirement.  It’s just amazing to us the fascinating places we continue to find as we travel around the country.  There have been so many that occasionally I have to go back to past blogs to remember them all.  Hey, time to go tomorrow is a work day.

Thanks for joining us today.  We always appreciate your company and your comments.  Like those about our future recliner, yup, we need one that will be comfortable to take a nap in!  Till tomorrow.

These are the voyages of  Graybeard and it’s two intrepid travelers.  Our continuing mission: to explore as many new states as possible, to seek out new acquaintances and make new friends, to boldly go where we have never been before

See you on down the road!








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