Graeser Park’s long-awaited restoration has begun.

This Lilac Way park in Robbinsdale, MN is benefitting from a major masonry project by MnDOT’s Historic Roadside Properties Program.

Browse the videos and photo albums below for an up-close look at their work.

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10.20.21. Take a virtual walk around the Graeser Park beehive fireplace. MnDOT’s Historic Roadside Properties Program has started restoration.

Per MnDOT: “The beehive openings will have a wire grate on them to block off the firebox opening (the SLP Beehive has a metal and glass closure). Much of the damage to the structures was likely due to excessively sized fires, as you can see from the broken stones at the top of the firebox arches which then weakened the structure.”

10.20.21. MnDOT’s restoration of Graeser Park is on track—the beehive is being restored, 10 picnic table pads are done, and they have completed three table bases. The bases are covered in white plastic during the 72 hour moist curing period. This will help slow down the cure and reduces the likelihood of cracks forming. They have also restored the flagstone around base of beehive. Stones to be replaced are marked with blue tape. The beehive openings will have a wire grate on them to block off the firebox opening to prevent fires that weaken the structure.

Browse the photo albums to see for yourself.

Graeser Park beehive fireplace and picnic area, Sept. 28, 2021

A gorgeous fall day showed this rare beehive fireplace in a warm light. Protected by a fence, this Lilac Way beehive is one of only two remaining, and the only one in its original location. A local resident spent time swinging in a hammock with a view of the beehive, great to see.

Graeser Park rock garden and restored picnic table, Sept. 28, 2021

Visit this historic rock garden, and rest on the newly-rebuilt and -restored original 1930s picnic tables. The rock garden is a bit overgrown — cleanup efforts by the Robbindale Lions Club and volunteers are on pause while MnDOT completes their maintenance project. When that is done, the land title will be transferred to the City of Robbinsdale. Date TBD.

Views of Graeser Park’s first restored picnic table and a second platform – July 21, 2021

These July 20, 2021 photos shows the view of the first restored picnic table completed by Northern Bedrock from different locations in the park. A second table platform near the beehive fireplace was also restored, and they started restoring a third platform. The start of something wonderful.

CCX Media: More restoration underway at Robbinsdale’s Graeser Park

10.10.21. Volunteers, who were instrumental in unearthing Graeser Park in Robbinsdale, were ecstatic to see crews power washing the “beehive” fireplace and replacing stones this week.

The stone pads and vintage picnic tables and benches will eventually be reset in the park.

In spring 2021, MnDOT removed invasive, damaged and diseased trees in Graeser Park’s rock garden.

Graeser Park, April 21, 2021. Looking over rock garden towards W. Broadway.

Graeser Park got a little TLC from MnDOT in March 2021. Four diseased and damaged volunteer trees in the rock garden were removed on Monday.

They included a boxelder and mulberry on the slope near W. Broadway, and two elms near the rock garden pond. The elm roots were causing damage to the stone paths and pond edging.

Robbinsdale’s Graeser Park could be closer to city ownership

Sept. 4, 2020 – CCX Media’s Neil Pursley discussed 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, plans to preserve and restore the park can continue MnDOT’s 2021 work.

Watch the video, or read the transcript. You can also read the CCX article. Length: 3:08. Thanks, Neil!

Robbinsdale Lions Club have been volunteer stewards of Graeser Park since 2008.

As proud volunteer stewards, Robbinsdale Lions Club volunteers have been working for years to clear paths and stone structures in the rock garden and take out invasive plants and shrubs. They’ve accomplished a lot since first starting in 2008.

Now their work is on hold, pending completion of MnDOT’s restoration project, and land transfer to the City of Robbinsdale..

Graeser Park, Aug. 1, 2020. Lion Jeannine McDonald removes weeds from 1939 stonework.

Non-profit group will launch fundraising after title is transferred

The Graeser Park Restoration & Preservation (GPR&P) group is a non-profit 501(c)(3) that will launch fundraising after the City of Robbinsdale has received the title for the land (date TBD).

Created by a group of dedicated supporters, GPR&P supports saving this historic Lilac Way park and its rare beehive fireplace. Follow their Facebook group for updates.

Meet the Graeser Park Beehivers—volunteers focused on saving Lilac Way’s Graeser Park.

Meet the core group of passionate and enthusiastic volunteers with one goal—to raise community awareness and funding to preserve and restore Graeser Park. who use and enjoy the park, those who share the experience of the park through stories and photos, and good-hearted souls who help keep the park neat by picking up litter.

Fans who follow and like Graeser Park on social media, and anyone who wants to see the beehive restored and preserved for future generations are also Beehivers.

Graeser Park, Aug. 1, 2020. Lion Jeannine McDonald sweeps 1939 pathways.

Volunteer cleanup efforts are on hold until the Lions Club is approved for MnDOT’s Highway Sponsorship Program.

MnDOT has informed Restore Lilac Way that volunteer efforts to preserve Lilac Way parks must stop:

“These properties are owned by MnDOT. No one may perform work such as digging, planting or removing vegetation, posting signs, or making any other changes without a permit from MnDOT. Doing so without a permit is considered trespassing.”

We could never get a permit, the requirements are far too extensive. We are hopeful that the Robbinsdale Lions Club is accepted into MnDOT’s Highway Sponsorship Program.

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VIEW ALL GRAESER PARK PHOTO ALBUMS

What 1939 structures could be restored in Graeser Park?

Beehive fireplace
Picnic tables
Rock garden
Limestone benches

Graeser Park’s restoration can happen with

  • Local government involvement
  • Local and national fundraising efforts
  • Community support
  • Tie-ins with local Historical Societies
  • Crowdfunding
  • Corporate sponsorship (but not naming rights—since park is named for Carl Graeser, it’s important to keep name)
  • Strong social media campaigns
  • Matching gift drive
  • and more…

Funding Graeser Park’s restoration will require community support.

Let Lilac Park’s restoration be your inspiration. This 2009 project in St. Louis Park came with a $225,000+ price tag. And Graeser Park is much bigger—with more structures—than Lilac Park.

Picnic tabletops, bases, and limestone saved from MnDOT’s ‘Beehive Graveyard’ can be used to restore Graeser Park.

When MnDOT dismantled three Lilac Way parks for road construction, they saved the fragments, tabletops and bases in the Beehive Graveyard.

Robbinsdale has some of those fragments in storage for safekeeping until they can be used to restore Graeser Park.

How much will it cost to restore Graeeser Park? Estimates will be determined after MnDOT clears the title of the land, and transfers it to the city of Robbinsdale.

Fundraising will take place when property is under City ownership.

Graeser Park, 2020
Maintaining Graeser Park, 2020
Graeser Park, June 2019

The 2020-2029 Robbinsdale Capital Improvement Plan shows $190,000 allocated for Graeser Park Improvements.

Robbinsdale Capital Improvement Plan, 2020-29 (detail). Projects and funding sources for Park System.
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Follow Graeser Park Restoration & Preservation nonprofit group on Facebook.