This is a national tragedy. But there’s hope.

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.

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Structures
Preservation
Stewardship
Carl Graeser
Beehivers
Photos

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.

The City of Robbinsdale requested that MnDOT transfer the land title of Graeser Park to the City. This process is underway, with the final transfer date to be determined.

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

2020 Update: Volunteers are cleaning up Graeser Park individually due to social distancing. Email the Robbinsdale Lions for more info.

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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. Beehive fireplace (upper left), rock garden. Photo: MN Hist. Soc.
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. Photo: MnDOT

GREAT NEWS! New non-profit group formed for future Graeser Park fundraising

A dedicated group of Graeser Park supporters has formed Graeser Park Restoration & Preservation (GPR&P), a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization with one mission – future fundraising to restore Graeser Park. Read blog article

This Lilac Way park is ready to be restored.

The Robbinsdale Lions Club and a group of volunteers have done an extraordinary job of maintaining this park. Nicknamed the ‘Lilac Way Archaeological Dig’, they’ve removed dirt, uncovered hidden pathways and brought this 1939 park back to life.

Newly Discovered Structures, 2019
Maintaining Graeser Park, 2019
City installs protective fencing around Graeser Park beehive fireplace

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 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 7-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

June 16, 2016. Volunteers work to restore Robbinsdale park. Northwest Community TV. Length – 1:54

Nov. 8, 2013. Graffiti creates eyesore on historic Robbinsdale structure. Northwest Community TV. Length – 0:49

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).