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.

LilacWay_PhotoAlbumInt-ExcelBlvdPark

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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 Lilac Park fireplace does not have that distinctive cap on top—it was moved and restored in the this 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 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

Scroll through the 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, rockfaced 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 table top supported by cruciform shape
      • Had four benches
      • The seat of each was supported by two stone block pedestals
    • Rectangular table top, with two stone benches that were each supported by three stone blocks
      • Table tops and seats were simple slabs with rockfaced edges
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.