These are the last two beehive-shaped fireplaces in the U.S.
Lilac Way’s fireplaces were built in 1939 by unemployed local stonemasons as part of a WPA project.
Made of limestone quarried along the Minnesota River near the Mendota Bridge, each stone was cut by hand.
Beehive-shaped fireplaces, 1939
Beehive-shaped fireplaces with a ‘cap’ top and three leg extenstions, 1939
Tall, tapered fireplaces, 1939
Why are they called ‘beehives’?
Lilac Way fireplaces were nicknamed ‘beehives’ because they look like skeps—baskets placed open-end-down—used to house bees for more than 2,000 years. Initially made from wicker plastered with mud and dung, from the Middle Ages they were made of straw. In its simplest form, there is a single entrance at the bottom.
There’s no internal structure so the colony produces its own honeycomb, attached to the inside. Skeps have two disadvantages; beekeepers cannot inspect the comb for diseases and pests, and honey removal is difficult, often resulting in destruction of colony.
As of 1998, most US states prohibited skeps because they cannot be inspected for disease and parasites.
Here’s an interesting blog about keeping backyard bees in straw skeps.