We only have two photos of Graeser Park South.
Kristi Gibson, Robbinsdale Historical Society board member, found this rare photo in a 1964 MnDOT inventory of wayside parks. Restore Lilac Way follower Kathleen Jo Gausman submitted the second photo of her family around the council ring in the late 1940s.
This photo above is from a 1964 Graeser Park South MN Department of Highways Wayside Rest Area Inventory.
Digitized by Minnesota Reflections, the inventory documents 25 wayside areas, nine of which are on the 12.5 mile stretch of Highway 100 known as Lilac Way.
See a PDF file showing only the Lilac Way pages.
- One of seven original Lilac Way parks
- Designed by Arthur Nichols, Landscape Architect
- Built by Works Progress Administration (WPA) as part of one of Minnesota’s largest federal relief projects, 1934-1941
- Handcrafted by unemployed men during Great Depression
- Significant in the state’s history of transportation
- Determined ineligible for National Register status
Graeser Park South Facts
- Located several feet to south on other side of Broadway Avenue from Graeser Park
- 1.7-acre park
- Was physically separated from Graeser Park by West Broadway and railroad
- Had picnic tables, large limestone council ring, well and pump for fresh water, and original stone and lumber “roadside parking” sign
- Built in 1939
- According to Rollie Heywood, long-time historian at Robbinsdale Historical Society, there was a path from the main Graeser Park that went under the West Broadway bridge (and possibly the railroad bridge) to the main Graeser Park
What did the WPA build in Graeser Park South in 1939?
Research shows the following structures in Graeser Park South
- Beehive fireplace (original plans called for three fireplaces)
- Council ring
- Six stone picnic tables, arranged around the council ring
- Stone refuse container
- Stone “Roadside Parking” sign
- Pump with a pump shelter on the site
Graeser Park South was physically separated from Graeser Park by W. Broadway and the Burlington Northern Railroad.
According to the St. Louis Park Historical Society:
Graeser Park South was also called Graeser Park II. It was a 1.7 acre open space with some trees on the west side of Highway 100 bounded by the Burlington Northern Railroad, 100, and Scott Avenue.
It was on a triangular piece of land that extended down Highway 100 to the southwest. It was completed in 1940 or 1941.
Graeser Park South was fully within the Highway 100 right-of-way. The circular bench/bonfire pit of the council ring was totally overgrown with weeds and debris. Access to the site is provided by Scott Avenue, and it’ss likely that most users of the site were pedestrians in the immediate neighborhood.
While this area was located within the limits of the Lilac Way Historic District, the Cultural Resources investigation did not highlight this area as a specific contributing element of the historic district.
Rather than being considered an independent park facility, for the purposes of the EIS, it is considered to be simply open space that is part of the overall landscaping for the area.
LOST: Graeser Park (SOUTH)
Read MnDOT’s 1964 Wayside Rest Area Inventory (JPG) for Graeser Park (SOUTH). This is the only photo of Graeser Park South that I have even found.
Read MnDOT’s 1997 Historic Roadside Development Structures Inventories (PDF) for Graeser Park (SOUTH).
Graeser Park (NORTH, with beehive fireplace)
Read MnDOT’s 1964 Wayside Rest Area Inventory (JPG) for the main Graeser Park (NORTH).
Read MnDOT’s 1997 Historic Roadside Development Structures Inventories (PDF) for the main Graeser Park (NORTH).