Eligibility approved after Minnesota’s State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) reviewed MnDOT’s documentation, MnDOT distributes press release
On December 22, 2023, Katherine Haun Schuring, MnDOT’s Cultural Resources Unit, submitted documentation to Minnesota’s State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). Her report titled Phase II Evaluation Graeser Park, Robbinsdale, Hennepin County, Minnesota (Landscape Research LLC, June 2023) was reviewed by Sarah J. Beimers, Environmental Review Program Manager at SHPO.
Sarah and her team appreciated the thorough and well-written property history, context development analyses of significance and integrity. They agreed with MnDOT’s finding that Graeser Park is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).
Read the blog article or download MnDOT’s press release. Amazing news!
Now that it is eligible, Graeser Park’s nomination must go through final review before being approved for the Register.
A property’s determination of eligibility is separate from listing the property in the National Register. Listing is done through the preparation of a nomination in coordination with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), and is usually undertaken by the owner of the property. The nomination then goes through state and national levels of review, and if it is approved at each stage, the property is listed.
Read MnDOT’s January 25, 2024 press release below, or click the image to download the PDF.
Contact: Ricardo Lopez, Communications and Public Engagement
Graeser Park wayside in Robbinsdale deemed eligible for National Register of Historic Places
ROSEVILLE, Minn. – Graeser Park in Robbinsdale, a Minnesota Department of Transportation-owned historic wayside, has been determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places following a re-evaluation of the property.
The Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office on Monday concurred with MnDOT’s evaluation that Graeser Park is eligible. The wayside, located at 4400 Lakeland Ave N, is known for its distinctive beehive fireplaces, stone tables and rock garden that were built as part of a Great Depression-era public works program authorized by President Franklin Roosevelt and funded by the Works Progress Administration and run by the then-Minnesota Highway Department.
“Graeser was a hidden gem in plain sight and the community in Robbinsdale never let us forget about it,” said Program Manager Andrea Weber, MnDOT Historic Roadside Properties and Waysides. “The recognition by the State Historic Preservation Office that it is eligible again makes a huge difference in its future preservation.”
Weber, a landscape architect, led the effort to rehabilitate and re-evaluate the property.
Highway 100 was first constructed in the 1930s between Highway 52 in Robbinsdale and Highway 5 in Edina, becoming the first highway built in Minnesota with a cloverleaf interchange. It contained two lanes of travel in each direction with a wide, center median. The highway was known as “Lilac Drive” because it featured innovative landscape architecture with the namesake lilacs and became a source of pride for the burgeoning suburban cities of Golden Valley, Robbinsdale and St. Louis Park, where another beehive fireplace also sits.
Reconstruction of Highway 100 in the 2000s eliminated the Lilac Way Historic District and many of the waysides. The area was first identified as historic in the late 1990s. MnDOT salvaged and stored several stone tables and stones in Robbinsdale. They were meticulously restored starting in 2021 and served as the basis for the initial historic re-evaluation which was expanded to include the entire site.
The effort was led by staff from MnDOT’s Historic Roadside Property Program. A group of dedicated volunteers, with assistance from the city of Robbinsdale, have also supported Graeser Park’s rehabilitation, which included accessibility improvements and weeding. MnDOT is in the process of conveying Graeser Park to the city of Robbinsdale.
“The City of Robbinsdale remains grateful for the work of our volunteer community members and direction from assisting agencies including MnDOT,” Robbinsdale City Manager Tim Sandvik said. “It’s a tremendous amount of work to reach this point, but we look forward to continued efforts to preserve such a wonderful amenity in our community.”
For updated road condition information, call 511 or visit www.511mn.org.
Read the letter from Minnesota’s State Historic Preservation Office below, or click the image to download the PDF.
January 22, 2024 VIA E-MAIL
Katherine Haun Schuring
Cultural Resources Unit
MN Department of Transportation
395 John Ireland Blvd, MS 620
St. Paul, MN 55155-1899
RE: Graeser Park (HE-RBC-00025) Phase II Evaluation, Robbinsdale, Hennepin County, SHPO Number: 2024-0371
Dear Ms. Haun Schuring,
Thank you for providing our office with the opportunity to review the Phase II evaluation of Graeser Park (HE-RBC00025). The documentation received in our office via email on December 22, 2023 was prepared in accordance with Stipulation 2(J) “Innovative Programs” of the 2015 Amended Programmatic Agreement (PA) executed among the Federal Highway Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).
We have completed a review of your letter dated December 15, 2023, a submittal which included the following documentation:
- A report titled Phase II Evaluation Graeser Park, Robbinsdale, Hennepin County, Minnesota (Landscape Research LLC, June 2023).
We appreciate the thorough and well-written property history, context development analyses of significance and integrity.
We agree with your agency’s finding that Graeser Park (HE-RBC-00025) is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).
It is our understanding that this evaluation is not directly linked to a current or impending Section 106 review of a proposed federal undertaking. Therefore, any future Section 106 review that has the potential to affect this property will need a formal determination of eligibility by the federal agency, or delegated federal agent, submitted to our office and other consulting parties for review and comment on a specific federal undertaking pursuant to 36 CFR Part 800.
Please feel free to contact Nicole Foss at (651) 201-3248 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions regarding our review.
Sarah J. Beimers
Environmental Review Program Manager
MINNESOTA STATE HISTORIC PRESERVATION OFFICE
50 Sherburne Avenue ▪ Administration Building 203 ▪ Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155 ▪ 651-201-3287
mn.gov/admin/shpo ▪ email@example.com
AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY AND SERVICE PROVIDER
Andrea Salo Weber, Manager of MnDOT Historic Roadside Properties and Waysides Program, sent out this email announcement to Graeser Park volunteers and supporters.
“Hello Friends of Graeser Park,
We received the exciting news that the MN State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) concurs that Graeser Roadside Parking Area (Graeser Park) is Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places! The letter from SHPO is attached. The full report will be publicly available on the MnSHIP website: Minnesota’s Statewide Historic Inventory Portal (mn.gov) soon.
A team of MnDOT staff and consultants have been working on a re-evaluation of Graeser for several years. Graeser was presumed no longer eligible due changes during the reconstruction of the highway, and due to loss of integrity based on condition. Carole Zellie of Landscape Research, along with MnDOT Cultural Resources and Historic Roadside Property staff completed an in depth re-evaluation of the overall site as well as appendices researching the Beehive Oven and the Rock Garden at Graeser; it’s two most rare features.
Graeser was determined individually eligible in the 1998 study of Roadside Properties (Gemini Research), which also identified the Lilac Way Historic District and several other contributing properties. Graeser is also noteworthy for having the most extant stone picnic tables and the largest flagstone area in its overlook wall (Gemini).
Since the reconstruction of the highway, the overall Lilac Way Historic District was lost as were most of the waysides*. Graeser was also presumed to have lost its eligibility. But It was never field verified that the plans were fully implemented. In addition, the Historic Roadside Property Program did several phases of work at Graeser to improve its condition and integrity of design, materials, and workmanship. Due to those facts, re-evaluating the site was approved by CRU and SHPO.
The re-evaluation report for Graeser initially was intended to look at the significance of the Beehive Fireplace and the Rock Garden as eligible objects. However the recent rehab work completed in the park led to a review of the overall site. Extensive research upholds the importance of this Roadside Park.
Graeser was determined significant under “Criteria C – Landscape Architecture” for its National Park Service Rustic Style design under the framework in the 2020 Statewide Study of Roadside Properties (2020 Study linked here – this study includes the revised framework for roadside property eligibility but does not identify Graeser as eligible.)
Congratulations and thanks to all who have helped to preserve Graeser; through advocacy, documentation, research, uncovering, weeding, design, and construction! This is a very exciting outcome which reflects the extraordinary Community involvement supporting Graeser and the impact of a modest investment from the MnDOT Historic Roadside Property Program.
Working together, we can make good things happen! Thanks, Andrea”
Graeser Park Photo Gallery, 2023
In 2021, MnDOT’s Historic Roadside Properties Program launched an extensive preservation and restoration project in Lilac Way’s historic Graeser Park. MnDOT’s work was designed and constructed according to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. The project was completed in 2023 by EAI Historic Restoration.