Lilac Way had beehive-shaped fireplaces, tapered fireplaces, and even flat grills.

The main Graeser Park, the old Lilac Park had beehive-shaped fireplaces. Excelsior Boulevard and Graeser Park South had beehives with ‘caps’ and leg extensions.

Blazer Park in Golden Valley had two tall, tapered fireplaces. Glenwood Park had flat, low grills.

In the 1940s, families would pull off into a roadside park for a picnic, and roast hot dogs in these quirky fireplaces.

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VIEW BEEHIVE FIREPLACE PHOTOS

The National Park Service and MnDOT can document only these two “beehive” fireplaces remaining in the U.S.

Lilac Way’s fireplaces were built in the 1930s 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.

lilacway-lilac-iconThese are the last two beehive-shaped fireplaces in the U.S.

Graeser Park, June 11, 2024. Restored rare beehive fireplace with tables in picnic area.
Graeser Park, restored in 2023, Robbinsdale, MN

Learn more about restored Graeser Park

Lilac Park, restored. May 24, 2020. Rare beehive fireplace, built in 1939, includes two stone picnic tables and lilacs.
Lilac Park, renewed in 2009, St. Louis Park, MN

Learn more about renewed Lilac Park

lilacway-lilac-iconBeehive-shaped fireplaces with a ‘cap’ top and three leg extensions, 1930s

Excelsior Blvd. Park, 1939. Beehive fireplace with cap and three extended legs. Photo: MnDOT.
Excelsior Boulevard Park, lost in 1969, St. Louis Park, MN

Learn more about lost Excelsior Boulevard Park

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Graeser Park South, lost in late 1990s, Robbinsdale, MN

Learn more about lost Graeser Park South

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Tall, tapered fireplaces, 1930s

Blazer Park, 1939. Tapered fireplace. Photo: MnDOT.
Blazer Park, 1939. Tapered fireplace. Photo: MnDOT.
Blazer Park, lost in late 1990s, Golden Valley, MN

Learn more about lost Blazer Park

Vern Johnson’s father worked on Highway 100 project

“My father would tell me about these beehives… There’d be two or three guys calling out a size stone that he wanted, so when the guy cut the stone he would put number 2 or 3, and that would go to a certain place on the fireplace, so they didn’t get them mixed up.

It was all cut with a hammer and chisel, by hand.”

Why are they called ‘beehives’?

Straw skeps were among the first hives provided for bees when people started domesticating bees
Straw skeps were among the first hives provided for bees when people started domesticating bees

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.