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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 by the WPA during the Great Depression of the 1930s, it featured seven roadside parks with beehive-shaped fireplaces and stunning rock gardens.

Visit restored Graeser Park and renewed Lilac Park to see the only two remaining beehive fireplaces. Stop by protected Rock Island Park to see one of only two rock gardens in Minnesota.

Check out the new poster shop!

Restore Lilac Way poster shop

Four poster designs. Two sizes. For the one and only Lilac Way.

Display your love for Lilac Way’s historic parks and quirky beehive-shaped fireplaces. Show off your favorite park, or get the whole set for a lovely series. Includes restored Graeser Park, renewed Lilac Park, protected Rock Island Park and the classic Restore Lilac Way.

Available in 11″ x 14″ and 16″ x 20″, ready for easy and affordable framing. Get a poster for yourself, and another for a gift.

Pick it up in St. Louis Park to save shipping costs!

January 2024: Graeser Park is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places!

Graeser Park, Oct. 25, 2023. Beehive fireplace in picnic area. Photo: Mark Christman.

The only Lilac Way park on the National Register of Historic Places

After reviewing documentation from MnDOT, on January 22, 2024 the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) agreed that Graeser Park in Robbinsdale, MN has been deemed eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Now that it is eligible, there is another step to get it officially listed on the Register.

Read or download MnDOT’s press release. Amazing news!

Graeser Park was first identified as historic in the late 1990s. MnDOT salvaged and stored several stone tables and stones in Robbinsdale. They were meticulously restored starting in 2021 and served as the basis for the initial historic re-evaluation which was expanded to include the entire site. (Thank you, Andrea Weber at MnDOT”s Historic Roadside Properties Program.)

Photo: Mark Christman

Graeser Park, Oct. 25, 2023. Overlooking rock garden. Photo: Mark Christman.

MnDOT’s 2021-2023 restoration program made the park eligible

MnDOT’s Historic Roadside Property Program restored the rare beehive fireplace, rebuilt 11 picnic tables using salvaged stonework from lost Lilac Way parks, installed ADA accessible paths and picnic table, and installed informational signage.

They repaired and repointed four benches, pond walls, some paths in rock garden, planted 120 perennials plus shrubs, and much more.

We are all grateful to Program Manager Andrea Weber for making this historic park a priority.

MnDOT plans to convey the park to the city of Robbinsdale, date TBD.

Photo: Mark Christman

HUGE NEWS! The City of St. Louis Park voted YES to save Rock Island Park from development.

Rock Island Park, Sept. 8, 2021. The curved hand-cut stone bench, built as one of MN's largest WPA projects.

Community efforts to save a Lilac Way park were successful. On May 1, 2023, St. Louis Park’s City Council voted YES to Rock Island Park.

They passed two resolutions — to accept Rock Island Park’s south parcel from MnDOT for $0 and use it for park purposes, and to buy the park’s north parcel for $187,000 with no use restrictions. The north parcel will be maintained as-is until there is public process with the community and council to determine land use.

This 1930s WPA hand-built Lilac Way park is located near 28th St. and Toledo Ave. Rock Island Park is a ‘sister park’ to renewed Lilac Park, and one of only two rock gardens left in MN. Map

lilacway-lilac-iconWhat was Lilac Way?

Lilac Way was considered the ‘Showcase’ section of Highway 100 in Minneapolis, MN. Built as a WPA project during the 1930s, this 12.5 mile stretch of highway was lined with thousands of lilacs and seven historic roadside parks.

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.

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Follow the Facebook page with 1,400+ other Lilac Way fans

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Watch 140+ Lilac Way videos on YouTube. Choose the Graeser Park playlist, renewed Lilac Park playlist and Rock Island Park playlist.

Beehive Fireplaces
 Seven Parks
Graeser Park, June 19, 2022. Beehive fireplace, preservation by MnDOT Historic Roadside Property Program. New accessible walk.
Graeser Park
Lilac Park

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, plus a rock garden from a third. Sadly, the other parks were razed for Highway 100 reconstruction. Check the map for locations and info.

Meet the designer and Lilac Way enthusiast behind this volunteer project.

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.

Browse the photo albums.

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Photo Albums

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

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RESTORED: Graeser Park

Robbinsdale, MN

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RENEWED: Lilac Park (formerly Roadside Park)

St. Louis Park, MN

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PROTECTED: Rock Island Park

St. Louis Park, MN

Share your Lilac Way story.

The best way to honor Lilac Way’s wonderful history is by sharing stories about its seven roadside parks and Highway 100.

Just email your memories to Karen, she will add them to the Lilac Way Stories page, and keep Lilac Way’s memory alive.

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Read Paula Brookins Pentel touching story of visiting restored Graeser Park in 2023.

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Read the Lilac Way love story from Tim and Michele Wendling Olson.