LOST: Excelsior Boulevard Roadside Park

Located in the northwest corner of Highway 100 and Excelsior Boulevard in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, it included a beehive fireplace and stone picnic tables.

Unsafe road conditions led to its removal in 1969. Sadly, few photos exist.

Since it had already been removed before MnDOT’s Historic Roadside Development Structures Inventory in 1997, it was not included in the report.



Background from the St. Louis Park Historical Society

“This park was located in the northwest sector of the intersection of Highway 100 and Excelsior Boulevard. A map from 1933 indicates that the area featured a gas station, brick store, two houses and garages, a shed, barn, and horse corral. The park was built in 1939 with the other roadside parks. Pictures taken when it was completed show quite a large park, in fact, with a beehive-type grill.

This intersection soon became the busiest and deadliest in the State. The two roads were finally separated in June 1969, obliterating the park. The site is now under about 14 lanes of traffic.” Link

Excelsior Blvd. Park, June, 1944. These three women inspected Navy shells during WWII at Minneapolis Moline (Como Ave. plant). Photo: Lorraine Skelly.

FOUND! Rare 1946 photo of a Labor Day picnic in Excelsior Boulevard Park.

9.2.1946. Bertil and Harriet Benna, daughters Sandra and Sonja Benna have a Labor Day family picnic in Lilac Way's Excelsior Boulevard Park. Sadly, this park was razed in 1969. Photo: Hennepin County Library.

After finding this photo of Bertil and Harriet Benna with daughters Sandra and Sonja Benne, we were baffled—the original photo caption from Hennepin County Library said the park was at ‘Belt Line Boulevard and Lake Street’.

Researching Lilac Way since 2007, we knew the photo’s beehive fireplace did not match the beehive of the original Lilac Park on Highway 100 and Minnetonka Boulevard/Lake Street. The old Lilac Park fireplace does not have that distinctive cap on top—it was moved and restored in a new Lilac Park and remains today.

Luckily, Lilac Way fan Beth Good helped us figure out it was at Excelsior Boulevard and Highway 100. She found this 1956 aerial photo of this park, and even marked where she thinks the family were sitting—Mom & Dad in blue, the girls in red, with the cars behind them on Highway 100.

So, we now know the original photo caption was incorrect.

What a treasure. We hope the Benna family will contact Karen—we’d love to hear the story behind this photo!

Excelsior Boulevard Park, StarTribune article, July 21, 1969. A homeowner near the park regrets that the park was razed.

A neighbor regrets the loss of Lilac Way’s Excelsior Boulevard Park in 1969

N. Lorraine Anderson lived near this historic park before and after it was removed. She wrote a letter to the StarTribune in 1969, describing details of the park.

She will miss seeing park visitors have lunch, school children enjoying picnics, and even handing out matches or band-aids.

Excelsior Blvd. Park, 1956 aerial map. Located in NW corner of Hwy. 100 and Excelsior Blvd. in St. Louis Park, MN with a beehive fireplace and stone tables. Removed in 1969.
Excelsior Boulevard Park Facts
  • Razed in 1969 for road construction
  • Located in the northwest corner of Highway 100 and Excelsior Boulevard in St. Louis Park, Minnesota
  • Few photos exist
  • Had a limestone beehive fireplace, approximately six picnic tables, stone refuse container
  • Approximately one block long between Highway 100 and Webster Avenue
  • Included a pond at the north end on the Webster side
  • Careen Mammen grew up a block way in the 1940s, describing the beehive fireplace as “a half beehive on a split square base”
  • Richard Sigurdson remembers his classes from Brookside Elementary used to walk there for picnics in the late 1950s
Historical info
  • One of seven original Lilac Way parks
  • Designed by Arthur Nichols, Landscape Architect
  • Built by Works Progress Administration (WPA) as part of one of MN’s largest federal relief projects, 1934-1941
  • Hand-built by unemployed MN men during Great Depression
  • Significant in MN’s history of transportation
  • Determined ineligible for National Register status
Triple beehive fireplace Type No. 4, June 1937. Construction plan by MN Highway Dept., Hopkins Field Office. ‘C.F.G.’ initials in lower right corner stand for Engineer Carl F. Graeser.
Triple beehive fireplace Type No. 4, June 1937. Construction plan by MN Highway Dept., Hopkins Field Office. ‘C.F.G.’ initials in lower right corner stand for Engineer Carl F. Graeser.
Triple Fireplace Type No. 4

Excelsior Boulevard Roadside Park’s beehive fireplace was a rare Triple Fireplace Type No. 4. It was designed by the Hopkins Field Office in June 1937, and revised in March 1940.

Triple Fireplace Type No. 9 does not have the ‘cap’ on top.

Graeser Park South may have had a similar design, but it is hard to tell from photos.

What did the WPA build in Excelsior Boulevard Park in 1939?

Beehive fireplace in Excelsior Boulevard Roadside Parking Area, Lilac Way
Excelsior Blvd. Park, 1939. Beehive fireplace with cap and three extended legs. Photo: MnDOT.
Beehive-shaped fireplace
  • Built of tan, coursed ashlar, rock faced limestone
  • Unique design, does not match other Lilac Way beehive fireplaces
  • Dark red mortar joints contrast with the light-colored stone
  • Unknown size, rests on circular flagstone pad
  • Three rounded-arched fire openings with metal cooking grates and brick-lined fireboxes
  • Between the openings are small limestone ledges (on which to set hamburger buns!)
  • Razed in 1969 for road construction
Excelsior Blvd. Park, 1939. Picnic table. Photo: MnDOT.
Stone picnic tables
  • Unknown quantity of sets of stone picnic tables
    • Photos show at least six picnic tables
    • Each set sits on a rectangle of flagstone
  • Tables and benches were built of tan, roughly cut limestone, most of which was coursed
  • Stones were carefully chosen and cut, some were pure triangles
  • There were two picnic table styles
    • Square tabletop supported by cruciform shape
      • Had four benches
      • The seat of each was supported by two stone block pedestals
    • Rectangular tabletop, with two stone benches that were each supported by three stone blocks
      • Tabletops and seats were simple slabs with rock faced edges
Excelsior Boulevard Roadside Parking Area, 1964. Signpost and picnic table. Photo: MnDOT.
Stone signpost
  • At south edge of park
  • Probably similar to stone signpost in Blazer Park in Golden Valley
  • Large limestone entrance sign, was visible from Highway 100
  • Sign marked entrance to Excelsior Blvd. Park from Highway 100
  • Well-made
  • Built of two shades of limestone
  • 4′-square structure built of tan, random ashlar, rock faced limestone, with stone cut and laid in complicated angles
  • Shaft of marker tapers and stepped in as it rose to 10.5′ height
  • Two slabs of smooth dark limestone formed a cap
  • Lancet-like slits on sides
  • North and south slits supported hanging arm of sign
Excelsior Boulevard Roadside Parking Area, 1939. Parking structure. Photo: MnDOT.
Stone parking structure
  • No information is available
Excelsior Boulevard Roadside Parking Area, 1939.
Stone refuse container
  • No information is available

Read MnDOT’s 1964 Wayside Rest Area Inventory (JPG) for Excelsior Boulevard Park.

Since this park was razed in 1969, it was not included in MnDOT’s 1997 Historic Roadside Development Structures Inventory.