Those unusual beehive fireplaces were made by craftsmen with heart.

In the 1940’s, families would pile in cars and head to Lilac Way.

Pulling off Highway 100 into one of the seven roadside parks, they’d roast hot dogs in a beehive fireplace that was handmade by local stonemasons.

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Stonemasons earning $57 a month created each beehive fireplace and grill using a wooden pattern, hand-cutting each block of limestone quarried from the Minnesota River near the Mendota Bridge.

Engineer Carl Graeser had them built in the 1930s for Lilac Way, one of Minnesota’s largest Work Projects Administration (WPA) projects.

  • Each stone was cut by hand
  • Graeser Park’s beehive in Robbinsdale, Minnesota was built by stonemason John Schulte of Minneapolis, MN
  • Entrance signs, limestone picnic tables, pools and rock gardens were built alongside the beehives
  • Workers built seven parks with rustic entrance signs, stone overlooks, picnic areas, and even ornamental pools and rock gardens in addition to the beehive fireplaces
  • Fixtures provided work for local stonemasons, as another part of the WPA project
  • Masonry is well-executed
  • Stonework displays special labor-intensive construction techniques and distinctive use of indigenous materials that characterize both the Rustic style and federal relief construction in MN
  • Designed by the Minnesota Highway Dept.’s Hopkins Field Office in June, 1937
  • ‘C.F.G.’ initials in lower right corner stand for Engineer Carl Frederick Graeser
Lilac Park, restored. May 16, 2020. Rare beehive fireplace, built in 1939.
Triple beehive fireplace Type No. 9, June 1937. Construction plan by MN Highway Dept., Hopkins Field Office. Includes bill of materials. ‘C.F.G.’ initials in lower right corner stand for Engineer Carl F. Graeser. Built in Excelsior Blvd. Park.
Triple beehive fireplace Type No. 6, June 1937. Construction plan by MN Highway Dept., Hopkins Field Office. Includes bill of materials. ‘C.F.G.’ initials in lower right corner stand for Engineer Carl F. Graeser.

According to Patty Burrets, Minneapolis

“My grandfather Julius Atsch (1878–1947) was an immigrant from Hungary and a stone mason and bricklayer. He played a big part in the construction of Lilac Way’s beehive fireplaces. We often had picnics at Graeser Park in Robbinsdale. Fond memory! I just remember his being proud to have been part of them.”

Stonemason John J. Schulte of Minneapolis helped build the beehive fireplace in Graeser Park in Robbinsdale.

“His complete knowledge of the craft to which he has devoted his life is responsible in no small degree for the stone tables, benches and outdoor fireplaces and open grills at each of seven picnic spots along the Belt Line.” — The Minneapolis Morning Tribune, December 16th, 1941.

Stone Cutter Gives 65 Years of Experience—Memorials Highways Beautified. The Minneapolis Morning Tribune, December 16th, 1941. Article about John J. Schulte, built beehive fireplace in Graeser Park.
"Schulte Explains Work to Maurice Ring, Superintendent. Stone state typical of highway beautification and convenience for picnickers is inspected." From article about John J. Schulte, built beehive fireplace in Graeser Park in Robbinsdale, MN. The Minneapolis Morning Tribune, December 16th, 1941.
Graeser Park, 12.09.20. One of only two remaining beehive fireplace, and the only one in its original location.