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Graeser Park is a national treasure. It deserves to be restored.

Graeser Park features one of only two 1939 WPA-built ‘beehive fireplaces’ in the U.S. Located in Robbinsdale MN, it’s the only beehive in its original location.

For the first time in 80+ years, there is real hope this park will be saved.

We support local and national efforts to restore and preserve this rare Lilac Way ‘parkitecture’. Map to Graeser Park.

GRAESER PARK UPDATES

MnDOT installing picnic tables, removing invasive plants Graeser Park in 2021

Oct. 2020 – MnDOT’s Historic Roadside Property Program has committed resources to provide Graeser Park repairs and cleanup next summer. Plans include stone masonry repair or stabilization of overlook wall, beehive fireplace, and rock garden trail.

It also includes replacing disassembled stone picnic tables and benches from existing salvaged materials.

Graeser Park title transfer from MnDOT to Robbinsdale looks promising

Sept. 2020. A CCX Media video discusses Graeser Park’s ownership with Robbinsdale City Manager Marcia Glick, as well as MnDOT’s Andrea Weber. Both indicate that they may be getting closer to an agreement.

Once Graeser Park is owned by the City, volunteers hope plans to preserve and restore the park will begin.

Watch the video, or read the transcript. You can also read the CCX article.

Graeser Park, Sept. 4, 2020. City of Robbinsdale installed new fencing with diamond dry material.
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Preservation
Stewardship
Carl Graeser
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Photo Albums

MnDOT and the National Park Service can document only two beehive-shaped fireplaces remaining in the U.S.—Graeser Park, and Lilac Park in St. Louis Park, MN.

Thankfully, Lilac Park was beautifully restored in 2009.

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2020 Update: Volunteer efforts to preserve Graeser Park are on hold until they apply to and are approved for MnDOT’s new Highway Sponsorship program. Visitors are welcome in park.

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Graeser Park has been under the proud volunteer stewardship of the Robbinsdale Lions Club since 2008.

If you can see a stone path in Graeser Park today, it’s because a Robbinsdale Lion uncovered it. Joined by an army of volunteer ‘Beehivers‘, they’re maintaining Graeser Park while it waits for restoration.

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Meet the Graeser Park Beehivers.

Everyone who supports saving this historic park is a Graeser Park Beehiver, but there are a few key players raising awareness for this park.

Graeser Park, 1947. Cribbage game on handcrafted limestone picnic table. Photo: Robb. Historical Soc.
Graeser Park was a big part of Robbinsdale’s community.

Families grilled hot dogs, schools had picnics, and concerts were performed in the curved bandshell area. It was a popular neighborhood park.

Hand-built in 1939 with limestone quarried from the Minnesota River near the Mendota Bridge, this park had picnic tables, a beehive fireplace, four benches, and a waterfall.

Graeser Park, 1940. Kids in rock garden with waterfall, ponds and cone-shaped fountain. Beehive, upper left. Photo: MN Historical Society.
Graeser Park, 1940. Stone stairway leading from Broadway Avenue down into Graeser Park. Photo: MN Historical Society.
Graeser Park, 1940. Beehive fireplace (left center), and 10-11 picnic tables. Photo: MN Historical Society.
Graeser Park, 1940. Rock garden. Photo: MnDOT.
Graeser Park, 1940. Rock garden, looking towards Broadway Ave. Photo: MnDOT.
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GREAT NEWS! A non-profit group has been formed for future Graeser Park fundraising.

A dedicated group of Graeser Park supporters has formed Graeser Park Restoration & Preservation (GPR&P).

This non-profit 501(c)(3) organization has one mission – future fundraising to restore Graeser Park. Read more in this article.

This Lilac Way park is ready to be restored.

As stewards of Graeser Park, the Robbinsdale Lions Club and volunteers have done an extraordinary job of maintaining this park.

Since 2008, they’ve removed weeds and buckthorn. By uncovering hidden pathways, they hav brought this 1939 park back to life.

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Maintaining Graeser Park, 2020
Newly Discovered Structures, 2019

August 21, 2019. Recently unearthed table platform, paths and structures. Length – 3:00

August 26, 2018. 360° walkaround of beehive fireplace. Length – 1:18

Graeser (Grā-zer) Park was named for German engineer Carl Graeser, the “Father of the Belt Line.” He developed the concept and supervised construction of Highway 100 and Lilac Way.

Some locals call it “Glacier Park”. But it’s really Graeser Park.

What’s special about Graeser Park?

Graeser Park’s original plan called for
  • three stone fireplaces (may have been beehive-shaped)
  • stone oven-type fireplace
  • 18 stone picnic tables
  • rock garden with a waterfall that was integral to entire water system
  • three stone refuse containers
  • stone concourse
  • rustic log roadside parking sign
  • bituminous sidewalk
  • flagstone walks
  • 320′ of stone curbing
Graeser Park SOUTH in MnDOT’s 1997 inventory was listed as park land across West Broadway Avenue. This park had
  • a council ring
  • six stone picnic tables
  • stone refuse container
  • stone Roadside Parking sign
  • stone fireplace
  • water well with pump
Graeser Park, 1964. Photo: MnDOT.

Graeser Park Facts

  • Also known as Robbinsdale Rock Garden Roadside Parking Area
  • Built in 1939 as part of 12.5-mile-long roadside development project for Highway 100
  • Built by Work Progress Administration (WPA) and Minnesota Highway Department
  • One of largest federal relief projects in Minnesota
  • One of only two remaining Lilac Way roadside parks
  • Of two remaining beehive fireplaces, is the only one in original location
  • Includes original beehive fireplace, curved overlook wall and rock garden
  • Stone for park was quarried along the Minnesota River near the Mendota Bridge
  • Originally designed to be a six to seven acre park, with space along east side for a cloverleaf that was never built
  • Designed by Landscape Architect Arthur Nichols, who also landscaped Glensheen Mansion in Duluth, Minnesota
  • According to Rollie Heywood, long-time historian at Robbinsdale Historical Society, there was a path from the main Graeser Park that went under the W Broadway bridge (and possibly the railroad bridge) to Graeser Park South
  • Highway Engineer Carl Graeser supervised the building of Graeser Park while living at 4225 Unity Avenue North
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 men during Great Depression
  • Significant in the state’s history of transportation
  • Determined ineligible for National Register status

Historical News Articles

Just click the article and you will see an easy-to-read transcribed version.

Graeser Park, Robbinsdale Post, 10.31.1940

Graeser Park, Minneapolis Morning Tribune- Stone Cutter John J. Schulte.12.16.1941

More resources

August 8, 2019. Volunteers continue to make progress in preserving and maintaining Robbinsdale’s Graeser Park. CCX  Media. Length – 1:14

Graeser Park needs new signage

As part of restoration, we’d like to see new Graeser Park signage, similar to Lilac Park‘s signage by Laukkonen Design.

Graeser Park 1988 Thesis Proposal by Peter Dombrowsky

In his Senior Thesis Project in Landscape Architecture at the University of MN, Peter W. Dombrowsky proposed building a library in Graeser Park. The beehive fireplace and Rock Garden would remain behind the library.

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).

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).