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Discover the story of Lilac Way.

Lined with 7,000 lilac bushes, Lilac Way was a 12.5 mile ‘Showcase Section’ of Highway 100 near Minneapolis, MN.

Built during the Great Depression of the 1930s, it featured seven roadside parks with quirky beehive-shaped fireplaces, picnic tables and stunning rock gardens.

This historic Works Progress Administration (WPA) project provided jobs for nearly 4,000 unemployed Minnesotans.

Only two parks remain today, and part of a third park. Help support preservation of Graeser Park and Rock Island and visit restored Lilac Park.

lilacway-lilac-iconWhat was Lilac Way?

Highway 100 was part of a 66-mile ‘Belt Line’ highway built around the Twin Cities in the late 1930’s. Lilac Way was a 12.5 mile ‘Showcase Section’ between Robbinsdale and Edina.

lilacway-lilac-iconWhy was Highway 100 called Lilac Way?

Inspired by the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., in 1935 a local newspaper encouraged the MN Highway Department to plant lilacs along the new Highway 100. They agreed, and a garden club helped raise money.

Lilac Way Updates

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Graeser Park title transfer from MnDOT to Robbinsdale looks promising

Sept. 7, 2020 – Neil Pursley at CCX Media spoke with Robbinsdale City Manager Marcia Glick and Andrea Weber, Manager of MnDOT’s Historic Roadside Property Program.

They’ve confirmed that most of the documentation to do a transfer to release MnDOT’s easement over the land is complete.

MnDOT installing picnic tables, removing invasive plants in Graeser Park in 2021

Oct. 10, 2020 – MnDOT’s Historic Roadside Property Program has committed resources to provide repairs and cleanup next summer for Graeser Park in Robbinsdale, MN.

Plans include replacing stone picnic tables and benches from salvaged materials, stone masonry repair or stabilization of overlook wall, beehive fireplace, and rock garden trail.

MnDOT plans Rock Island cleanup and stone repair in 2020-21

Oct. 29, 2020 – Rock Island in St. Louis Park will also benefit from MnDOT’s Historic Roadside Property Program (HRPP).

MnDOT’s proposed plans include removal of diseased, damaged, volunteer and invasive trees and shrubs, repair of loose stone masonry in rock garden area for safety, modifications to path mowing and more.

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 Seven Parks
Graeser Park
Lilac Park, restored

Supporting preservation of two historic 1939 Lilac Way parks

Join the groundswell to restore Graeser Park and its rare beehive fireplace.

Graeser Park in Robbinsdale, MN has one of only two beehive fireplaces left in the U.S. Handcrafted in 1939 as one of seven of Lilac Way parks, this piece of history desperately needs to be saved and restored.

Group formed for future Graeser Park fundraising

The Graeser Park Restoration & Preservation (GPR&P) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization with one mission – future fundraising to restore Graeser Park.

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Help preserve Rock Island and raise awareness of this 1939 park.

Saved from demolition, Rock Island is all that remains of the original Lilac Park on Minnetonka Boulevard. Its oval pool, 10′ footbridge to an island and handcrafted curved stone bench are hidden by a noise wall.

We encourage efforts to preserve and raise awareness for this park.

In 2008, the beehive fireplace in the South section of Lilac Park was moved and restored.

Where were the seven Lilac Way parks located on Highway 100?

If you grew up in the area, you probably remember the roadside parks with with picnic tables. The fireplaces had round tops and were nicknamed ‘beehives.”

Only two of the seven parks remain today. Sadly, the other five parks were razed for Highway 100 reconstruction. Check the map for locations and info.

Get to know the Lilac Way enthusiast behind this website.

Karen Laukkonen launched restorelilacway.com to document Lilac Way’s history, and support and encourage restoration.

The pro bono project was conceived, written and designed through her website design company, Laukkonen Design.

Browse the photo albums.

Photo Albums Overview Page

Start your virtual drive down Lilac Way’s history and parks right here.

RESTORED: Lilac Park (formerly Roadside Park)

St. Louis Park, MN

NEEDS TO BE RESTORED: Graeser Park

Robbinsdale, MN

NEEDS TO BE PRESERVED: Rock Island

St. Louis Park, MN

Become part of the Lilac Way Storytellers.

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