There were seven Lilac Way roadside parks in 1939.

Today, only two parks remain, plus a section of a third.

Lilac Park (formerly Roadside Park) and its beehive fireplace has been beautifully restored.

Interest to restore Robbinsdale’s Graeser Park is flourishing.

Saved from demolition, Rock Island is once again a treasured part of St. Louis Park’s history.

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Lilac Way parks were revolutionary.

Families pulled their car off Highway 100, into a roadside park. They grilled hot dogs in the beehive fireplaces, relaxed at a picnic table and enjoyed a rock garden or reflecting pool.

Park structures were handmade from limestone, quarried from the Minnesota River near the Mendota Bridge.

Inspired by National Park Service Rustic Style ‘Parkitecture’

Lilac Way’s parks were designed by Arthur R. Nichols, one of Minnesota’s most important early landscape architects. He followed the “National Park Service Rustic Style”, a movement in American architecture and landscape design. It included appropriately scaled, well-crafted structures of stone, concrete, and log that were designed to harmonize with the environment, not dominate it.

Two parks survived, and part of a third.

RESTORED: Lilac Park (originally named St. Louis Park Roadside Park)
  • Location: SE corner of Highway 100 & Highway 7/County Road 25 in St. Louis Park, MN
  • Renamed Lilac Park in 2009 after beehive and picnic tables were moved from original Lilac Park to this park to save from road construction
  • Carefully restored and renovated, 2007-2009
  • MnDOT’s 1997 ‘Historic Roadside Development Structures Inventory’ for this park
NEEDS RESTORING: Graeser Park
  • Location: NW corner of Highway 100 and County Road 81 in Robbinsdale, MN
  • In desperate need of restoration
  • Features one of only two 1939 WPA-built ‘beehive fireplaces’ in the U.S., only beehive in original location
  • Lovingly maintained by a group of volunteers
  • City of Robbinsdale requested that MnDOT transfer the land title of Graeser Park to the City, and transfer process is still underway (final transfer date to be determined)
  • MnDOT’s 1997 ‘Historic Roadside Development Structures Inventory’ for this park
SAVED FROM DEMOLITION: Rock Island (AKA Monkey Island)
  • Location: NE corner of Highway 100 and Minnetonka Boulevard in St. Louis Park, MN
  • North section, all that remains of original Lilac Park (south section lost to road construction)
  • Lovingly maintained by a growing group of volunteers
  • Owned by MnDOT
  • MnDOT’s 1997 Lilac Way ‘Historic Roadside Development Structures Inventory’ for this park

Five parks lost to road construction

LOST: Blazer Park
  • Location: West side of Highway 100 between Highway 55 and Lilac Way Drive North in Golden Valley, Minnesota
  • Inventory completed for MnDOT’s 1997 Lilac Way ‘Historic Roadside Development Structures Inventory’
  • MnDOT’s other name for this park Golden Valley Roadside Parking Area
  • Property determined ineligible for National Historical Register in August 2006
  • Razed for 2001 Highway 100 reconstruction project
LOST: Excelsior Boulevard Roadside Parking Area
  • Location: Highway 100 at Excelsior Boulevard in St. Louis Park, Minnesota
  • Not much is known about this park
  • Photos taken in 1953 show a large park with a beehive grill
  • Listed in MnDOT’s 1997 Lilac Way ‘Historic Roadside Development Structures Inventory’ as one of ‘at least two other parks along Highway 100 that had been demolished’ before the inventory
  • Razed for Highway 100 reconstruction, 1969
LOST: Glenwood Avenue Roadside Parking Area
  • Location: Highway 100 at Glenwood Avenue in Golden Valley, Minnesota
  • Listed in MnDOT’s 1997 Lilac Way ‘Historic Roadside Development Structures Inventory’ as one of ‘at least two other parks along Highway 100 that had been demolished’ before inventory
  • Razed for road reconstruction in 1959
LOST: Lilac Park, original (south section)
  • Location: Northeast corner of Highway 100 and Minnetonka Boulevard in St Louis Park, Minnesota
  • Included in MnDOT’s 1997 Lilac Way ‘Historic Roadside Development Structures Inventory’
  • Property determined ineligible for National Historical Register in August 2006
  • Beehive fireplace and a picnic table were relocated and restored at the new and restored Lilac Park (formerly Roadside Park) at Highway 100 & Highway 7/County Road 25
  • Some minor structures remain in an area called ‘Monkey Island’ as of 2018
  • Most of park was razed for 2001 Highway 100 reconstruction project
LOST: Graeser Park South
  • Location: Northwest side of Highway 100 just south of Broadway Avenue and Burlington Northern Railroad in Robbinsdale, Minnesota
  • Inventory completed for MnDOT’s 1997 Lilac Way ‘Historic Roadside Development Structures Inventory’
  • Property determined ineligible for National Historical Register in August 2006
  • Razed for 2001 Highway 100 reconstruction

View photos of Lilac Way parks, 1939-41