Graeser Park is a national treasure.

From 2021-2023, Graeser Park was beautifully preserved and restored by MnDOT’s Historic Roadside Preservation Program.

Restored to National Park Service Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, the transformation is breathtaking.

January 2024: Graeser Park is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places!

After reviewing thorough and well-written documentation from MnDOT, on January 22, 2024 the MN State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) agreed that Graeser Park is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Now that it is eligible, there is another step to get it officially listed on the Register.

Read the blog article or download MnDOT’s press release. Amazing news!

Graeser Park, June 11, 2024. Restored rare beehive fireplace with tables in picnic area.
Graeser Park, June 11, 2024. Rare 1930s rock garden with two ponds, four benches and a cone fountain.

The only Lilac Way beehive fireplace in its original location

Graeser Park features one of only two WPA-built ‘beehive fireplaces’ built in the 1930s in the U.S. Located in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, it’s the only beehive in its original location. Its rock garden is one of only two in the state.

For the first time in 80+ years, historic preservation returned this park to its original beauty. MnDOT plans to convey the easement to the City of Robbinsdale, date TBD.

We are grateful this rare example of Lilac Way ‘parkitecture’ was preserved. Map

GRAESER PARK UPDATES

06.11.2024, 7129. A gorgeous day in Graeser Park. This video takes a walk through the rock garden area.

06.19.2023. Take a virtual walk down Graeser Park’s new ADA accessible sidewalk along Broadway Avenue, leading into the beehive fireplace area.

Graeser Park, June 11, 2024. Restored rare beehive fireplace with tables in picnic area.
Structures
Graeser Park, May 18, 2022. EAI Historic Restoration carefully restores the rare 1930s beehive fireplace.
Restoration
Stewardship
Carl Graeser
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Beehivers
Photo Albums

MnDOT and the National Park Service can document only two beehive-shaped fireplaces in the U.S. Graeser Park’s beehive fireplace was restored and preserved in 2021-2023 according to National Park Service’s Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.

The other beehive is in Lilac Park in St. Louis Park, MN which was renewed in 2009.

Spring 2024 Update: Graeser Park was constructed by and is still owned by MnDOT and managed under the Historic Roadside Property Program. MnDOT plans to convey the easement to the City of Robbinsdale, date TBD.

Visitors are always welcome in Graeser Park.

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Graeser Park was under the proud volunteer stewardship of the Robbinsdale Lions Club from 2008-2019.

If you can see a stone path in Graeser Park today, it’s because a Robbinsdale Lion uncovered it. Joined by an army of volunteers, their stewardship was on hold while MnDOT completed their 2021-23 restoration project. The Lions now wait for the park to be conveyed to the City of Robbinsdale, date TBD.

Graeser Park Beehivers logo
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: Robbinsdale Historical Society.
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, July 18, 1940. Rock garden. Photo: MnDOT.
Graeser Park, July 18, 1940. Rock garden, looking towards Broadway Ave. Photo: MnDOT.

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
  • four niches with striated limestone benches; benches are 2′ wide, 8′ long, and 18″ tall with a 2′ tall backrest
  • 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, Oct. 31, 1940

Graeser Park, Minneapolis Morning Tribune – Stone Cutter John J. Schulte, Dec. 16, 1941

More resources

Graeser Park, July 6, 2023. Preservation Celebration. Informational sign.
Graeser Park has new signage

MnDOT’s Historic Roadside Properties Program hired Karen Laukkonen of Restore Lilac Way and Laukkonen Design in 2023. Working as a team with Andrea Weber at MnDot and Kristi Gibson at the Robbinsdale Historical Society, Graeser Park now has an informational sign near the parking lot.

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.

RESTORED: 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).

Read MnDOT’s 1997 Historic Roadside Development Structures Inventories (PDF) for Graeser Park (SOUTH).