fbpx Shop Xanax Online Buy Alprazolam Online Overnight Delivery Online Xanax Reviews Generic Xanax Bars Online

Mystery Castle Foundation Says Building Won’t be Demolished

Photo shows the exterior of a stone building in South Phoenix known as the Mystery Castle.
Mystery Castle future discussed amid vandalism and demolition permit.

Share This Post

By Tom Brecke

South x South Mountain

The director of the Mystery Castle Foundation says it has no plans to demolish the beloved South Phoenix structure, despite filing paperwork for a demolition permit late last year.

“We would like everyone to know that the Mystery Castle Historical Foundation has no intention of demolishing the castle,” said Rita Spears, in an email to South x South Mountain. (This article originally published in May on the South x South Mountain website)

Spears is the former attorney for Mary Lou Gulley who owned the Mystery Castle until her death in 2010 and whose father, Boyce Luther Gulley built the structure between the 1930s and 1945.

“Applying for the permit, knowing the city would deny it, gave us the time and opportunity to work with the city to find a way to preserve the Castle, a project that will be far beyond the means of the Foundation,” said Spears.  “We are in that process and look forward to updating the community when we have a path forward. We are very encouraged by our progress so far, but at the same time, there is a great deal of planning and work ahead of us.”

The Mystery Castle, located at 800 E. Mineral Road in South Phoenix, was a multi-year labor of love for Boyce Luther Gulley, who constructed the 18-room home from local rocks, glass, wood and other eclectic found items.

Boyce had come to the Valley from Seattle to recover from tuberculosis and built the structure as an ode to his daughter. His wife and daughter moved into the house nestled on seven acres at the base of South Mountain, following Boyce’s death in 145. The structure was featured in LIFE magazine shortly after and the two began hosting tours of the house.

 The Mystery Castle is listed on the Arizona Historic Register, a City of Phoenix Point of Pride and been featured on HGTV and The New York Times as well as many other media outlets.

In 2010, Boyce’s daughter, Mary Lou, passed away, leaving ownership of the Mystery Castle and its surrounding land to the Mystery Castle Foundation, which applied for the demolition permit from the city last November, citing severe vandalism and storm damage.

Helana Ruter, a historical preservation officer for the City of Phoenix said her office has met with Spears and is currently working on options to save the structure and convert it to a productive public use.

Ruter said the city imposed a one-year stay for the demolition permit in order to explore possibilities. It’s currently waiting on results from a building condition assessment, aiming to estimate how much money it would cost to properly preserve the building. The city hopes to have the results by the end of May.

“What would it take to put the property into productive use?,” said Ruter of the assessment. “To being open to the public in a non-profit setting.”

She said representatives from Wisconsin-based Kohler Foundation, which seeks to preserve arts & education, including folk architecture, were in Phoenix recently to tour both the Mystery Castle as well as the Tovrea Castle, near State Route 202 and Washington Street. Ruter said Tovrea is a good example of how preserving a once-dilapidated property could flourish with proper restoration and care.

And while the future of the property is a mystery, one thing that seems to be clear is that the land on which the Mystery Castle sits is valuable. Longtime area real estate agent Kay Shepard estimated the seven acres to be worth at least $2.8 million.

A sum that Boyce Luther Gulley most likely could only dream about.

For more information on the Mystery Castle, please visit www.mymysterycastle.com

Subscribe to the South x South Mountain monthly newsletter here.

More To Explore