Cool find! MnDOT’s Historic Roadside Property Program Manager noted something interesting in a 1938 MnDOT Belt Line report showing the cost of creating a Lilac Way stone picnic tables.
The seven original Lilac Way parks each had these unique stone tables. The parks were built alongside Highway 100 during the Great Depression, providing work for the unemployed. It was Minnesota’s largest Works Progress Administration (WPA) project.
MnDOT’s 1938 budget included $40 for each table.
Adjusted for inflation, those table would cost about $750 each today.
GOOD NEWS: MnDOT plans to replace disassembled stone picnic tables and benches from existing salvaged materials in Graeser Park in 2021. But, given the cost of labor today, they might cost a bit more than $750 each!
Scroll down to see a photo gallery of Lilac Way tables.
According to the 1938 report
“Stopping points have been provided for the traveling public along the Belt Line where they may stop to enjoy the scenery or picnic.
These roadside parking areas are equipped with tables, fireplaces, drinking fountains or wells and are situated at strategic points along the Belt Line where right-of-way widths made possible such a development.”
See original picnic tables in restored Lilac Park
In 2009, the City of St. Louis Park moved a beehive and one table from Minnetonka Blvd. to a park near Highway 7. Now known as restored Lilac Park, it has five beautiful stone tables available for picnics.