Sculpture “Illusion Dweller” on Arroyos Beach

Down around the corner from the beach I frequent, the city had a new piece of land donated by the Bullitt family (former owners and founders of KING Broadcasting).  They gave 5.7 acres to the Arroyos Green Space. It has a sculpture installed called “Illusion Dweller” that is made of stainless steel and commissioned by Gerry Tsutakawa. It is actually to the North of the house they built down here many years ago.

I saw an article in the West Seattle Blog this week and decided I had to walk down there to see what it was all about. Below is a short video of my approach by land which for most folks isn’t an option. As the blog states the only way to see it is by water and boat.

West Seattle artwork you won’t see unless you’re at sea

After I took my pictures I walked back on the tideflats to our beach further to the south. I ran into a friend who is repairing his waterfront area damaged by the December storms. He has lived in this area for many years and told me a little about Stimson Bullitt’s tussle with the city to get the house built.

He said that the house they built at the end of the road south of the donated land was not an easy endeavor. The city threw lots of roadblocks in the way. The Bullitts had to pay to have all the water, sewer and power laid in underground. But the best piece is the turnaround he built so a fire truck could get turned. It is a cement platform on tall posts hanging out over the bluff. I thought it was just a parking space but now we know the full story.

Stimson was a leader in our community and active into his 80s. He was proud that he was on “Nixon’s Enemy’s List” from his protests of the Vietnam War. A man after my heart. Here is his Obit with some more details.

Enjoy the pictures!


    • You are one busy person for sure. Glad you enjoyed it and really won’t take much to deed that staircase to the DNR and then we could all legally walk there.

      Keep up the good work.

  1. I have been curious about the Bullitt house. I grew up in the Arroyos and we could ride bikes through to Fauntleroy before that house was built. I see that the house is now owned by the city, so I’m curious as to whether the house is still being lived in by Tina Bullitt or anyone else.

    • HI – I think the grand daughter still lives there. What I heard is she can stay as long as she likes… and yes the city owns it but I always feel like I am tresspassing when I use the stairs.

      • Thank you for your reply. I may have to go down and take a look sometime. If I were challenged, it would give me a chance to inquire about the status of the property!

      • Let me know what you find. It has been a while since I went down that way. I usually go down Ocean View trail and then just walk down the beach at low tide. The up the stairs and up the Arroyos. Be good!!

  2. Hello battgurl, in case this blog is still alive…

    I’m a lifelong Seattle resident who just moved to this neighborhood. I just made it to the sculpture today via another way, all on public land. Do you or anyone else here know of any efforts to create a legitimate trail?

    • Hi – I do not know of any plans. I think the property that the Bullitt family donated to the city allows their granddaughter to live there as long as she likes.

      When you said via Public Land what did you mean? Along the beach?

      Thanx for your kind words. I am still writing just not as often.

      • I actually came at it from the north, 47th Ave SW where the public right of continues into the greenbelt, then dropped down into the area that is now Seattle Parks. It’s a little overgrown and little steep, but doable. It would be great to connect a trail to those stairs mentioned on the Arroyos side.

  3. I think I did that too but in reverse. Once I went thru the condos and then walked home and another time I went all the way down 47th to Maplewood Place where it meets the water. It is a long way to get there but works. In time I bet the city will do something. At least I am hopeful

  4. I’m curious as to what stairs there are. I’m not aware of any.

    An interesting look at the area is actually on the King County Parcel Viewer. Click on “Basemaps” and select “Aerial 1936”. The Arroyos were still a Sand and Gravel pit at that point. You can see the dock for the operation, as well as the road that went through to 47th and Maplewood. There was a walkable path through there until the late 1970’s when the construction of the Bullit house started.

    • Oh I have to look at the 1936 IMap view. I use that all the time for my history research on lost towns in east King County.

      The stairs. They lead from the beach to the Bullitt house. Been at least a year since I last took a chance of sneaking by at the top. They are getting more and more unkept as well. At the beach bottom it can be difficult to get thru the brush too.

      When the sculpture was dedicated someone had cleared the brush out but since then it has grown back with more blackberries than before.

      Happy investigating. Thanx for visiting my little blog. She has evolved so much over 10 years. Started on crows and nature. Now I focus on using it to document my historical research and adventures trying to find these lost towns/mines. I am hooked on the idea that time erases so much and we should be more humble to that.

    • Thanks for the parcel viewer tip! Pretty interesting to see the area back then. I heard the Arroyos neighborhood used to be a quarry but hadn’t seen photos before this

      Parcel viewer is actually what I used to find a way to the sculpture.

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