PHOTO ALBUMS

BEFORE RESTORATION AND PRESERVATION

Graeser Park, 1940-2020

When it first opened in 1940, Graeser Park played a central role in the community of Robbinsdale, MN. Picnics, games and school outings were often held at this rustic Lilac Way park.

But by 2020, time and Mother Nature had taken their toll.

Despite years of effort by the Robbinsdale Lions Club and volunteers, the park was in desperate need of restoration. These photos show the park’s slow deterioration before MnDOT Historic Roadside Property Program’s restoration project started in 2021. Completed in 2023, the park has been transformed.

Scroll back in time from 2020 to see the park as it lost its luster.

Follow its 2021-present restoration process and see its transformation.

These black and white photos show Graeser Park from 1940 through the 1960s.

Graeser Park – 2020

Graeser Park, aerial photos 2020

These amazing bird’s eye view photos show the scale and design of this historic Lilac Way park in Robbinsdale, MN.

Graeser Park, 2020

Efforts continue to preserve this historic 1939 Lilac Way park in Robbinsdale, MN.

Graeser Park’s Beehive Fireplace, 2020

One of only two remaining beehive fireplaces, it is the only one in its original location. Community efforts are growing to restore this rare piece of Lilac Way history.

Maintaining Graeser Park, 2020

Volunteer efforts by Robbinsdale Lions Club to preserve Graeser Park are on hold until they apply to and are approved for MnDOT’s new Highway Sponsorship program.

Graeser Park, buried staircase found in 2020

Two years of a Lilac Way archeological dig finally unearthed the bottom step of a lost 1939 stone stairway. Buried by MnDOT in the early 2000s, volunteers Beth Good, Jeannine McDonald and the Robbinsdale Lions Club found this Graeser Park structure.

*A MNDOT contractor has restored (reburied) the stairway. It was covered as part of the support system for the rebuilt Broadway Ave. bridge.

Graeser Park, searching for a buried stairway, 2018-20

Devoted Graeser Park Beehiver Beth Good and other volunteers spent many hours and weekends with one mission—find an original 1939 stone stairway that we think was buried by MnDOT in the early 2000s.

*A MNDOT contractor has restored (reburied) the stairway. It was covered as part of the support system for the rebuilt Broadway Ave. bridge.

Temporary Graeser Park, signage 2020

Designed to inform and educate park visitors, they
– welcomed people to this historic 1939 Lilac Park
– documented the history
– shared details of the beehive fireplace
– honored Robbinsdale Lions’ volunteer stewardship and
– explained the staircase discovery
Writer: Kristi Gibson, Robbinsdale Historical Society for writing the content. All time and expenses were donated.

Graeser Park – 2019

Wells Fargo volunteers cleanup Graeser Park, October 2019

Volunteers from Wells Fargo weeded and cleaned up this historic park. Beth Good, Kim Brimley, Nestor Quarshie and Jennifer Kodet joined Robbinsdale Lions Kent Brun and Rene Buchanan to make a difference.

Graeser Park, Newly Discovered Structures, 2019

A picnic table platform, pathways to a buried staircase and multiple bump-out areas for landscaping were found. Lilac Way’s Archaeological Dig continues, thanks to the Robbinsdale Lions Club.

Graeser Park, June 2019

These dramatic photos show the progress made by the Robbinsdale Lions and the Graeser Park Beehivers. So much work and effort!

Maintaining Graeser Park, 2019

The Robbinsdale Lions are back at work, maintaining Lilac Way’s Graeser Park.

Graeser Park’s beehive fireplace protected, March 28th, 2019

The City of Robbinsdale installed protective fencing around Graeser Park’s 1939 beehive fireplace to prevent future damage of this historic Lilac Way parkitecture. It is one of only two beehive fireplaces in the U.S., and the only beehive in its original location.

Graeser Park – 2018

Maintaining Graeser Park, 2018

The Robbinsdale Lions Club and individual Graeser Park Beehivers have transformed Graeser Park from a forgotten park to a showcase. They removed trees, weeded, and cleaned to help bring this park back to life.

Graeser Park ‘Meet me at the Beehive’ events, 2018

To raise awareness, Kristi Gibson at the Robbinsdale Historical Society did a stupendous job organizing a series of free community events at the park in July-September 2018. Included ‘Yoga at the Beehive,’ a painting party, and Old Log Theatre performing songs from their hit show, ‘Beehive.’

Graeser Park, 2018

Growing community support was driven by the Robbinsdale Lions Club, Kristi Gibson at the Robbinsdale Historical Society, and the relaunch of restorelilacway.com.

Graeser Park bandshell and overlook wall, 2018

A home to concerts, musicians and events since 1939, this 14′-wide curving lookout bay has three sets of limestone steps leading to park.

Graeser Park – 2012-2016

Graeser Park, 2016

By 2016, the Robbinsdale Lions Club had been working on the park for eight years, and these photos show their dedication.

Graeser Park, 2015 Cleanup Day

These 2015 photos show early discovery of 1939 Lilac Way structures buried under years of nature. Big thanks to Colleen Patterson for the photos.

Graeser Park, 2014

Lilac Way enthusiast Karen Laukkonen stood in deep snow to get these photos during a snowy March.

Graeser Park, 2013

This one photo shows the south end of the park at the food of the Broadway Ave. bridge. In 2013, it was completely overgrown. Photo: Jeannine McDonald

Graeser Park, 2012

Arlo and his mom Jesica took these photos in 2012. Now, Arlo is a full-fledged volunteer at the park.

Graeser Park – 1997-2010

Graeser Park, 2010

The Robbinsdale Lions Club began maintaining Graeser Park in 2008, so these photos show early days of their efforts. Thanks to Lion Colleen Patterson for these photos.

Graeser Park, June 2010

These photos of Graeser Park’s overgrown rock garden were taken on June 24, 2010 by John Hermanson.

Graeser Park, 2007

Taken for the original launch of restorelilacway.com in 2007, these photos show the sad state of this historical Lilac Way park.

Graeser Park, 2001

The park with the building of the new West Broadway Avenue bridge.

Graeser Park, 2000

We found these May 2000 photos online in a MnDOT photo inventory. The images may not quite be up to our typical standards, but still worth viewing. The photos were scans of laser print-outs. The search is on for the original photos.

Graeser Park, 1997

Just one photo, found in MnDOT’s 1998 Historic Roadside Development Structures on Minnesota Trunk Highways report by Susan Granger, Scott Kelly and Kay Grossman. Hoping to add more photos as available.