Friday was our 3rd full day in Arizona. Unfortunately, Chase woke up with a fever. So the first thing we did after dropping Emily off at school was to take Chase to the Dr. Jenny had gotten an email from the school that there had been a couple cases of strep throat going around and wouldn’t you know, that’s what Chase had! Bummer. But he was a trooper about it and got better quick after he started his medicine. While they were at the Dr., Madelyn and I walked around outside. It was the most beautiful day.
Spending time with my girl relaxing is a lot of fun. I am sure I don’t have a lot of time left before she get busy with her life and hanging out with her old mom won’t be as easy or as important.
After we got Chase his medicine, we went to the Mystery Castle.
The Mystery Castle was built over 15 years by a man named Boyce for his daughter Mary Lou. He came from Seattle and went through the city papers and discovered that there was 40 acres of land that was part of the South Mountain Park that could be mined. Back then you had to live on the land for 7 years in order to claim the land and since no one had done that, well he did. He then started something that could only be described as amazing.
He built a castle for basically no money other than his food. He literally used found or recycled everything in the entire thing. I would venture to say he was slightly quirky. He had come to Arizona from Oregon due to tuberculosis and worked 15 years on this place. Sadly he died before his wife and daughter could join him, but they did move down to the castle after his death. His daughter lived in the castle the rest of her life until her death in 2010.
Every rock was hauled from the area around the castle. He did technically mine the area under the castle to complete the claim. In the picture above, you can see old telephone poles used in the balcony.
This is one of the variety of windows used in the castle. Notice the bricks around the window? Back in the day the making of bricks was not exact. Sometimes they would have the heat up to high and the bricks would melt and become unusable. To everyone but Boyce. He would take these unusable bricks and brick pieces and use them everywhere.
Here is another unusual window made form the rim of the car that Boyce drove from Oregon. He parted it out and used many of the parts in the house. Other materials he used were railroad tracks salvaged from abandoned mines, wood from the sides of unused railroad cars, shipping crates. Basically anything he could get his hands on for free.
He built in a lot of nooks and cranny’s for decorations and even made some of them.
The ceiling here is made out of the sides of a decommissioned boxcar. Thinking about how all this work would have been done without all the modern conveniences and by hand helps you understand how it took 15 years to build a castle with 18 rooms including bedrooms, living area, caretakers quarters, cantina, patios, chapel and dungeon!
He made good use of space and built his desk into a wall using it also as a support. He did the same thing with the wine cellar and other various hidey holes.
Of course you may know by now that I love antiques. And this place is literally filled with beautiful antiques.
For mantels and other places to use for decorations due to his lack of furniture he built it into the walls.
I can’t remember who he got the bedroom set from, but it was someone who worked with railroad. It was designed to look like an engine, and was absolutely beautiful!
Even though Mary Lou lived in the castle for many years, she didn’t used some parts of it and there are still parts to this day that have no modern conveniences. I believe there are 13 or so fireplaces.
He built a wishing well, but not your usual wishing well. This one went to the cantina and if you were on the patio you wished in the well for your drink and it would be delivered up from downstairs.
He built an entire cooking area outside on the main patio. Many of the ‘unusable’ bricks were used in this area. You can see an archway built into it on the left hand side. He built this as the Phoenix Frame. Back when he built the castle you could stand there and look straight out and it framed in the entire city of Phoenix.
Phoenix is a little bigger that it used to be then and no longer fits in the frame.
These are windows built out of the ruined bricks as well.
He even built this little tower. You can’t actually get into it but it’s cute and interesting.
Another balcony in front of Mary Lou’s room.
This is just another example of a beautiful archway up to another patio. I thought it was so neat that he used statues in the actual architecture.
This is in the guest house area of the castle. I want this piece in my home! Some of the furniture was beyond gorgeous. The guest house was open and very airy. It was often used when it got hot in the summer.
This another fireplace that actually had one behind it and used two flues. He got fairly creative in this area.
This is the other fireplace slightly below and behind the other fireplace. To get to the living space in this room you have to go down a few stairs.
To make space he built a loft for storage and this corner he left unfinished and built it around the cactus that was there. It was alive at the time but has since died and left it’s skeleton. So cool.
Again to save room, the bed is a hide-abed! It is on rollers and rolls out and then under the floor above.
If you ever get there to visit, pay attention to every where. When we got back up on the floor above the bed and looked back down, we noticed this cactus he built into the floor. There were amazing details everywhere! In this picture you can also see the rails the bed rolls out on.
Downstairs there is the Chapel area. He wanted this castle to have everything. There is a sunken fireplace with a seating area around it.
They actually held weddings here for a while. Would have been neat to get married in a castle.
An old organ that I can’t remember the whole story of, but the woman that gave it to him married a number of wealthy men that seemed to not live very long. She would then make large donations of to the local churches. They in turn gifted her for her kindness which is how she came to own this organ.
Just another beautiful corner.
There are so many things I heard that I am probably not remembering. I do want to mention that they are not open May to October due to the amount of critters that they have in the castle to get out of the heat make it difficult to hold tours. He also insisted that before his wife and daughter could own the castle or make any real decisions about it they had to live there two years and they could not open the trap door until they had done so. When they had lived there two years, the lawyer gave them the key and they found all the paperwork for the house along with picture of them, all their letters to him and pictures of him during the years he built the castle. He did this to show them how much he loved them and how often he thought of them during their years apart. They also didn’t add any electricity or plumbing until 1992 although there are still many parts that have neither. Amazing to think Mary Lou lived there all those years without those to the castle!
Boyce was green before being green was even a thing. This recycled, upcycled, repurposed castle was one of the most interesting places I have ever visited. I have a feeling I stood with my mouth open in awe most of the morning. After we were done with our tour we headed for sushi and home. We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing at home while Chase rested.