From neglected ‘Roadside Park’, to restored ‘Lilac Park’.

This original 1939 2.7-acre Lilac Way park, formerly known as St. Louis Park Roadside Park, has been transformed.

After MnDOT transferred ownership to the city, the beehive and picnic table from the original ‘Lilac Park’ on Minnetonka Boulevard were moved here to escape demolition, then beautifully restored.

After restoration, the park’s name was changed to Lilac Park, to honor that lost park.

It’s on the southeast corner of Highway 100 and Highway 7/County Road 25.

Here’s the ‘before’ photos.

Lilac Park (restored) Facts
  • Formerly known as St. Louis Park Roadside Park
  • Renamed Lilac Park after the beehive from the original Lilac Park (Minnetonka Boulevard and Highway 100) was moved to this location to save it from road construction
  • 2.7-acre park
  • Located on southeast corner of Highway 100 and Highway 7/County Road 25
  • Next to Nordic Ware
  • Accessible from Southwest Regional Trail
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 Minnesota’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

Scroll through the ‘after’ photos to see the stunning transformation.

What did the WPA build in this Lilac Way park in 1938-39?

Council Ring
  • Located near center of picnic area
  • Built of tan, coursed ashlar, roughly-cut limestone
  • About 20′ in diameter
  • 18″ thick walls
  • Fire ring in center (about 5′ in diameter)
  • Pedestrian opening on the southwestern side
  • Was in poor condition before restoration
Lilac Park, restored, 2009. Limestone picnic table.
Stone picnic tables
  • Original site may have had five stone picnic tables
  • Four stone picnic tables remained in 1997
    • Each set sits on a rectangle of flagstone
  • Built of tan, roughly-cut limestone, most of whic is coursed
  • Stones were carefully chosen and cut by hand
  • Two tables have nearly square tops (about 3.75′ by 4.5′)
    • These tables each have four stone benches supported by two limestone block-like pedestals
  • Two tables have 3′ by 5′ rectangular tops
    • These tables each have two 4′-long benches supported by three block-like limestone pedestals
  • Table tops and seats are simple slabs with rockfaced edges
  • Tops are supported by trestle-like bases
  • All of the picnic table sets were in fair condition before restoration
  • One of the square sets was missing a bench before restoration
  • The picnic table from the original Lilac Park on Minnetonka Boulevard was moved to this park, then restored
Lilac Park, restored, 2009. Originally a driveway for cars, now a walkway.
Circular drive
  • Asphalt-paved drive enters park from the east
  • Circles through the park, creating an oval island in the center
  • Now closed to vehicles, was originally used by cars
  • Is a 9′-wide asphalt-paved footpath used for pedestrians and bikes from Southwest Regional Trail
  • Vehicles park at the parking area near east edge of park
Stone fireplace, rectangular (not beehive-shaped)
  • Located north of council ring
  • Only lower courses of stones remained
  • Built of tan, random ashlar, roughly-cut limestone
  • Rectangular structure measured 5′ by 9′ at base
Stone refuse container
  • Near southeasts corner of picnic area
  • Square shaped, apparently designed to hold a metal can or drum for refuse
  • Built of tan, roughly-cut, random ashlar (with some rubble) limestone
  • Was 5′ square, 4′ tall, with 8″ thick walls
  • Was in fair condition before restoration
A well, probably a hand pump
  • Had been removed before 1997

Watch the video of moving the beehive fireplace, from Minnetonka Boulevard to Highway 7. After arriving at the new Lilac Park (formerly St. Louis Park Roadside Parking Area), it was restored. Now, it is a part of history.

The information signage for Lilac Park was designed by Karen Laukkonen, Laukkonen Design.

Read MnDOT’s 1997 Historic Roadside Development Structures Inventory for Lilac Park, formerly known as St. Louis Park Roadside Parking Area.