October 2, 2021. At 80 years old, Graeser Park in Robbinsdale is a scenic wayside rest with noteworthy historical significance. While it has suffered neglect over the years, much of the original park is still intact, including
- A large flagstone terrace
- Limestone curbing and walls
- An enchanting rock garden
- The iconic beehive fireplace
MnDOT project is preserving Graeser Park stone features
In fall 2020, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) launched a preservation project at this unique Lilac Way park, built with WPA labor in 1940. MnDOT’s Historic Roadside Property Program Director, Andrea Weber, manages the project and has committed to repairing and refreshing this beautiful four-acre park to preserve its historical significance.
One table is installed, 10 more are in the works!
With a view toward transferring control of the property to the City of Robbinsdale, MnDOT is returning tables that were dismantled due to highway construction in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Other elements of the original park will be rebuilt/repaired/stabilized. The project is ongoing and all work meets national standards for historic preservation.
Your table is ready
Rebuilt from original 1930s Lilac Way stone saved from MnDOT’s ‘beehive graveyard‘, one table has returned to its original spot on the east side of the rock garden. It was built by Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps in summer 2021. Nearby is the stonework that originally comprised ponds, a waterfall, and a cone-shaped fountain.
Although the MnDOT project will not restore water to the park, visitors can sit at the table and imagine the ponds flowing. It’s a lovely gathering spot for picnics, card games, and get-togethers.
Many more to come
As of mid-October 2021, a skilled masonry contractor will
- Repair the park’s rare beehive-shaped fireplace
- Clean and repair the flagstone pads scattered throughout the park that held original picnic tables
- Rebuild ten picnic tables of two types on the repaired pads, using salvaged stone parts
- Eight tables will be similar to the first rebuilt table, rectangular with trestle-type bases and two benches on the long sides
- Two tables will have cruciform bases (looking like the letter X when viewed from above) with four benches
- Potentially extend a stone path toward the first rebuilt table
This phase will likely continue in the spring, with a target completion date of June 15, 2022.
Down the road
Pending MnDOT funding, the project goals also include a third phase to
- Improve safety by resetting stones on pond edges
- Increase accessibility by building an ADA-compliant picnic table near the beehive
- Install a concrete walkway from West Broadway to the beehive level
- Add an interpretive sign at the top of the stairway leading down to the rock garden (Laukkonen Design will help with this)
Thanks to Kristi Gibson at Graeser Park Restoration & Preservation for editing this article.
Browse photos from September, 2021
Graeser Park beehive fireplace and picnic area, Sept. 28, 2021
Graeser Park rock garden and restored picnic table, Sept. 28, 2021