“I was born in 1939, grew up in Robbinsdale. My father had a sister who lived in Osseo with her husband and family, on a farm. Back in those days that was a Sunday trip for us. My mom would pack a picnic lunch and we would stop and eat at Graeser Park. I loved to go to there as a child and also as a teenager. We grilled hot dogs in the beehive fireplace, and I remember the benches and rock gardens.

As a teen in the early 1950’s we would pack a lunch and meet with friends and just sit around and chat or lay in the sun with blankets on the grass. (more…)

Sharon EggerichsBrooklyn Park, MN

“I remember the original Lilac Park near Minnetonka Boulevard. We used to go there for family picnics in the late 1950s/early 1960s with our grandparents who lived in St. Louis Park on 33rd and Xenwood. We called it Monkey Park. (The nickname comes from Como Park’s ‘Monkey Island’, which was also built by the WPA.) Now it’s called Rock Island.

I was very young, but I remember thinking that it was such a cool place! We climbed around the rock gardens which were already starting to become overgrown and were crumbling, even by then. (more…)

Martha DeckerShakopee, MN

“I remember the beehive fireplaces and picnic tables from childhood, but not the council rings. I was a very young child 3-4 years old. I have memories of running through the lilac bushes, I believe kids had worn paths between them. (more…)

Michele KesslerMinneapolis, MN

“I’m 80 years old now. My dad would take my sisters and me to play at Lilac Park along Highway 100 and Minnetonka Boulevard. There was an island everyone called Monkey Island (now known as Rock Island) that we would play on, picnic tables etc.

This had to have been the late 1940s after World War II, when we moved to St. Louis Park. All of that area was altered due to Highway 100 construction.”

Submitted 2.2.20

Sharon BoermSt. Louis Park, MN

“Lilac Park near Minnetonka Boulevard was a favorite picnic place for my family when I was a kid in the 1950s. I was probably around five years old. My Dad used the beehive fireplace to grill for our picnics.

We picnicked on the south end of the park, near the beehive. There used to be a nursery nearby called Halla Nursery where we bought garden plants. After completing our stone house in Richfield, Dad built his own stone fireplace in the backyard.”

Submitted 2.2.20

Lynn BettsIndependence, MN

“Love Graeser Park! Grew up just a few blocks from the park on 44th and Welcome Avenue in the 1960s-70s. The park was my happy place, too! I would jump on my bike and go find a spot in the park to read. Or have brown-bag picnics with my sisters during summer. Never got to see the fountain working, but would imagine it was.

We were trying to keep the park nice, even as kids. We would spend time clearing out the old leaves and trash each spring. If I still lived in Minnesota, I would certainly be one of your volunteers, helping to restore the parks. Thanks for your efforts and hard work! Hope to bring my grandchildren for a picnic there sometime and visit the old neighborhood.”

Submitted 2.1.20

Sally Hillyer

“I remember those beehive fireplaces from when I was a kid. It was in the mid-1970s. I was living in south Minneapolis and as kids we rode our bikes everywhere. We would ride our bikes to Lake Calhoun and one day we decided to ride further and discovered the park with the beehive. It was one of our favorite spots. I had no idea of the name of the park.* We would ride there and pretend there were castles that we either defended or attacked, depending on which team we were on that day.


Ed Stately (Rabbit)Minneapolis, Minnesota

“We often had family picnics in Graeser Park in Robbinsdale. We always just called it ‘the picnic place on Lilac Lane’. My sister remembers it as I do—Highway 100 on one side and West Broadway on the other side.


Pam SchmitzLakeville, Minnesota

“My Maternal Grandmother found our darling little home at 3108 Salem from 1955-68 for my family. It was and still is a lovely neighborhood. I was a “nature girl”, and back then our alley between Salem and Toledo led to a large wooded area. Lilac Way was like our backyard! The area around Highway 7 and Minnetonka Boulevard on Highway 100 was all woods, lilac bushes as far as the eye could see!

Those were very special times. I would sneak out of the house before dawn and wander along Lilac Way through the woods, checking on all the birdie nests. I spent endless hours and days wandering those woods, climbing the pine trees at the end of Salem Avenue and Highway 7. (more…)

Janet Lehmann NielsenSan Diego, California

“My brother and I loved it when my parents closed the store on Sunday afternoon to go for a ride, and my dad would drive us around and around the cloverleaf. After my father passed away in 1987, we’d pick up Eddy Arnold’s chicken and eat at Graeser Park on West Broadway with my mother and my two daughters.”


Jacqueline PasterCrystal, Minnesota