Meet Karen Laukkonen—Lilac Way enthusiast and website designer.

Karen Laukkonen

In 2007, she watched TPT’s Highway 100: Lilac Way documentary about its history, quirky beehive fireplaces and seven roadside parks.

Inspired, she launched restorelilacway.com to create an online archive for all things Lilac Way.

In 2018, she launched a redesigned website for multiple devices and audiences.

It’s easy to navigate, mobile-friendly, and documents Lilac Way’s history and the restoration of Graeser Park in Robbinsdale, preservation of Rock Island and appreciation of renewed Lilac Park in St. Louis Park.

It currently has almost 90 pages, 100 photo albums and 60 blog articles. There are also MnDOT documents, Lilac Way stories, and videos.

Restore Lilac Way is a civic project conceived, researched, written, designed and developed pro bono by Laukkonen Design since 2007.

Laukkonen Design donates all time and expenses for restorelilacway.com, including

  • research, writing, proofing and editing all copy,
  • design and content management of extensive WordPress site,
  • photo editing and retouching,
  • launched successful three-part ‘Say YES to Rock Island Park’ grassroots campaign in 2021 to encourage City of St. Louis Park to accept MnDOT’s offer to give the rock garden to the city at $0, saving it from development,
  • communication with project partners to promote restoration projects,
  • logo design for three remaining Lilac Way parks,
  • presentations to communities and key decision-makers to raise public awareness and promote restoration efforts,
  • project management,
  • printing and promotional materials,
  • and social media.

Karen was thrilled to design informational signage for both restored Graeser Park and renewed Lilac Park.

Graeser Park, June 28, 2023. New Informational sign, designed by Karen Laukkonen of Restore Lilac Way.
Graeser Park, June 28, 2023. New Informational sign, designed by Karen Laukkonen of Restore Lilac Way.
Graeser Park, June 28, 2023. Restore Lilac Way's Karen Laukkonen with sign she designed for MnDOT.

Graeser Park in Robbinsdale, MN

In 2022, Andrea Weber at MnDOT’s Historic Roadside Properties Program hired Karen to design the new 48″ x 32″ informational sign for Graeser Park in Robbinsdale, MN.

The signage was part of an extensive 2021-2023 preservation and restoration project. MnDOT restored the rare beehive fireplace, rebuilt 11 stone picnic tables from salvaged Lilac Way park materials, installed ADA picnic table and paths, and repointed much of the rock garden.

Installed in 2023, this was a team project with MnDOT and writer Kristi Gibson of the Robbinsdale Historical Society.

Lilac Park, renewed. May 11, 2020. Park signage, designed by Karen Laukkonen/Laukkonen Design.
Lilac Park, renewed. May 11, 2020. Park signage, designed by Karen Laukkonen/Laukkonen Design.
Lilac Park, renewed, May 2019. Signage by Laukkonen Design.
Lilac Park, renewed, May 2019. Signage by Laukkonen Design.

Lilac Park in St. Louis Park, MN

In 2008, the City of St. Louis Park hired Karen Laukkonen to create the large two-panel informational signage for renewed Lilac Park.

This Three Rivers system kiosk has two 4′ x 4′ panels. Directional signage guides bikers and walkers from the North Cedar Lake Regional Trail and yet to launch light rail into the park. Installed in 2009.

Growing up in St. Louis Park, Karen loved the rows of lilacs planted along Highway 100.

Her dad told her, ‘You didn’t drive on Lilac Way, you drove TO Lilac Way.”

Join the community.

Watch as videos and photo albums are added and preservation news is updated. If you have photos or info to share, email Karen Laukkonen.

For updates, follow the Facebook page.