“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.

(more…)

Ed Stately (Rabbit)Minneapolis, 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

“I grew up in the early ’60s on Vernon Avenue in St. Louis Park. My buddies and I used to go sledding on the hill in the original Lilac Park, next to the Highway 100 bridge. The hill faced north, with Lake Street/Minnetonka Boulevard at the top of the hill. Sledding down into the park, we were just a stone’s throw from the limestone beehive fireplace and picnic tables.”

Submitted 7.11.19

John CalhounDowners Grove, Illinois

“I remember Lilac Way parks from when I was little! We passed by them on Highway 100 when my family drove me to Camp Fire Girls camp out by the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Once we stopped and had lunch on a stone picnic table in one of those little parks. I remember the beehive fireplace. I never knew what the name was, though. I remember the huge lilacs that were there, too.”

Submitted 7.10.2019

Nancy KaminskiMinneapolis, Minnesota

“We had a couple end-of-year class picnics at Monkey Island (now Rock Island) when I attended Fern Hill School in St. Louis Park in late ’50s and early ’60s.”

Submitted 7.5.2019

Don ScrogginsAlameda, California

“How about a Lilac Way love story? I met a girl in 1974, we were both 15 years old. She lived on one side of Highway 100 in St. Louis Park, I lived on the other. Thirty five years later we found each other again, reconnecting on the Minnetonka Boulevard bridge near the original Lilac Park for our first kiss. So blessed to now call her my wife. (more…)

Tim Olson and Michele Wendling OlsonBall Ground, Georgia

“Good times. Monkey Island (now Rock Island) was a hangout for us kids in the 2600 through 2900 blocks of Raleigh, Salem and Toledo during the late ’70s. That was where we stopped on our way back across Highway 100 to ingest the pure sugar bought at Rogers Gas Station and Park Market amongst the Stonehenge-like runes of Monkey Island.

I had no idea of the actual history of it, and was convinced that it was once inhabited by actual monkeys.”

Submitted 7.5.2019

Jonathan Lichterman (Lichty)River Forest, Illinois

“We grew up on 29th and Salem. My brother Steve McGregor and my younger brother Jeff hung out in the original Lilac Park, along with Steve and Paul Margraf, Howie Reynolds, Mike and Scott Lundin. GREAT TIMES! But you had to be careful sledding in the winter, because I do remember ending up in the northbound lane of Highway 100 once or twice.”

Submitted 7.4.2019

Michael PinkertonMinneapolis, Minnesota

“I spent my formative years (ages 4-21, 1950-1967) one block away from the original Lilac Park and Rock Island, which we called “Monkey Island”. I lived at 2716 Toledo Avenue. I spent oodles of time at this park. Not only did I and friends play there, but annually our elementary school classes (both the former Fern Hill at 28th/Joppa and the former Ethel Baston (now Groves Academy) would trek there every spring for our annual school picnic outing. (more…)

Paul LinneeBloomington, MN

“I spent my formative years (ages 4-21, 1950-1967) one block away from the original Lilac Park and Rock Island, which we called “Monkey Island”. I lived at 2716 Toledo Avenue. I spent oodles of time at this park. Not only did I and friends play there, but annually our elementary school classes (both the former Fern Hill at 28th/Joppa and the former Ethel Baston (now Groves Academy) would trek there every spring for our annual school picnic outing. In those days, the ‘entrance ramp’ from Minnetonka Boulevard to Highway 100 was not what we think of them as being today. In fact, I don’t think YIELD signs had even been invented, which meant that when one got to the bottom of said ramp, one had to stop for a stop sign before proceeding on to NB 100.

Further, in those days, West 28th Street was actually a cross street of Highway 100! The ramp entrance reference above was to the east of Monkey Island, and it separated Monkey Island from a triangular shaped park area between the entrance ramp and Toledo Avenue, where many great ‘sandlot’ baseball games were played.

I think I even recall a time when Monkey Island’s water features (water streaming down the rock façade??) were functional, and I always thought the actual little island in the middle, accessible by crossing the little footbridge was quite exotic.

Rock Island Park and the south section of the original Lilac Park across Toledo Avenue from St. George’s Episcopal Church (with its ‘beehive’ fireplace for cooking) were key elements in the wonder of growing up in St. Louis Park in the 1950s. Great times and great memories!”

Submitted 5.26.17 and 4.4.20

Paul Linnee with his wife Jane, married since 1969.

Paul LinneeBloomington, MN