Read stories of Lilac Way’s early days.

THANK YOU to everyone who has shared their Lilac Way memories. You’ve helped keep history alive.

We’d like to add your Lilac Way story. Share it with us, it’s easy.

Email your memories to Karen, or click the button below to use the online form.

Submitted Lilac Way Stories

View all the stories, or select a park or city from the list below to see only those stories. Super easy.

If your Lilac Way park doesn’t appear in the list below, it means we haven’t received any stories for that park yet. So, submit your story!

Patrick Skelly
Minneapolis, MN

“My mother, Lorraine Skelly (then of North Minneapolis), took this photo in June of 1944. The three ladies in the photo are some of her friends from Minneapolis Moline (Como Avenue plant), where she worked inspecting Navy shells during WWII. Unfortunately, the ladies in the photo are unidentified (and my mother died back in 1990), so I have no information on who they are. (more…)

Monica Johnston Murphy
Robbinsdale, MN

It is wonderful news that MnDOT will install salvaged stone picnic tables in Graeser Park. I am proud of the cleanup work the Robbinsdale Lions Club has done. All of the benches were pretty overgrown when I cleaned up the park with fellow Lions. I had the thrill of uncovering one of the benches that I sat on as a kid—I just started clipping away at an edge and little by little – voila! There is much more to be done. (more…)

Bryan Howell
Dallas, TX

“I flew back to MSP for my Dad’s 80th birthday. My plan for weeks was that once I was in my rental car, I was going to take my husband to Graeser Park to check out your preservation efforts. I was probably 10-12 years old the last time I set foot in the park. I was looking forward to my “homecoming” tour. It was like walking back into my childhood home. (more…)

Carolyn Cade
St. Louis Park, MN

I attended the old Fern Hill School, corner of Minnetonka Boulevard and Ottawa in the 1950’s. We walked to the original Lilac Park for our fall leaf collecting walk and for the end of school picnic. It felt like a very long way. Love that park and its stone work. I am still friends with many of the people I have known since kindergarten at Fern Hill. After many years of living further out I am back in St Louis Park and it is a terrific community.

Joann Lowrie

“I love the beehive fireplace now located in restored Lilac Park. My mom and dad and my brother and my auntie and I used it for picnics years ago when it was located in the original Lilac Park on Minnetonka Boulevard in the 1950s before it was moved to this park. We grilled hot dogs in the beehive fireplace. (more…)

Anonymous Lilac Way Fan #1
Withheld

“Growing up in Crystal, I remember a birthday party in Robbinsdale’s Graeser Park back in the 1960s. All the kids at the party lined up on one of the curved benches and we walked along it.

Graeser Park and the original Lilac Park near Minnetonka Boulevard were in a sense landmarks on our journey to visit relatives in southern Minnesota. As an adult, I had a job off of Highway 100. Seeing the beehive fireplace in Lilac Park would bring back memories of family celebrations at my relative’s homes. I alway thought I’d be able to see that park from Highway 100. Guess not.”
Restore Lilac Way note: The beehive was moved in 2008 from Minnetonka Blvd. to restored Lilac Park near Highway 7 and is now visible in the SE corner of Highways 100 and 7.)
Submitted 5.17.2020
Sharon Eggerichs
Brooklyn Park, MN

“I was born in 1939, grew up in Robbinsdale. My father had a sister who lived in Osseo with her husband and family, on a farm. Back in those days that was a Sunday trip for us. My mom would pack a picnic lunch and we would stop and eat at Graeser Park. I loved to go to there as a child and also as a teenager. We grilled hot dogs in the beehive fireplace, and I remember the benches and rock gardens.

As a teen in the early 1950’s we would pack a lunch and meet with friends and just sit around and chat or lay in the sun with blankets on the grass. (more…)

Martha Decker
Shakopee, MN

“I remember the original Lilac Park near Minnetonka Boulevard. We used to go there for family picnics in the late 1950s/early 1960s with our grandparents who lived in St. Louis Park on 33rd and Xenwood. We called it Monkey Park. (The nickname comes from Como Park’s ‘Monkey Island’, which was also built by the WPA.) Now it’s called Rock Island.

I was very young, but I remember thinking that it was such a cool place! We climbed around the rock gardens which were already starting to become overgrown and were crumbling, even by then. (more…)

Michele Kessler
Minneapolis, MN

“I remember the beehive fireplaces and picnic tables from childhood, but not the council rings. I was a very young child 3-4 years old. I have memories of running through the lilac bushes, I believe kids had worn paths between them. (more…)

Sharon Boerm
St. Louis Park, MN

“I’m 80 years old now. My dad would take my sisters and me to play at Lilac Park along Highway 100 and Minnetonka Boulevard. There was an island everyone called Monkey Island (now known as Rock Island) that we would play on, picnic tables etc.

This had to have been the late 1940s after World War II, when we moved to St. Louis Park. All of that area was altered due to Highway 100 construction.”

Submitted 2.2.20

Lynn Betts
Independence, MN

“Lilac Park near Minnetonka Boulevard was a favorite picnic place for my family when I was a kid in the 1950s. I was probably around five years old. My Dad used the beehive fireplace to grill for our picnics.

We picnicked on the south end of the park, near the beehive. There used to be a nursery nearby called Halla Nursery where we bought garden plants. After completing our stone house in Richfield, Dad built his own stone fireplace in the backyard.”

Submitted 2.2.20

Sally Hillyer

“Love Graeser Park! Grew up just a few blocks from the park on 44th and Welcome Avenue in the 1960s-70s. The park was my happy place, too! I would jump on my bike and go find a spot in the park to read. Or have brown-bag picnics with my sisters during summer. Never got to see the fountain working, but would imagine it was.

We were trying to keep the park nice, even as kids. We would spend time clearing out the old leaves and trash each spring. If I still lived in Minnesota, I would certainly be one of your volunteers, helping to restore the parks. Thanks for your efforts and hard work! Hope to bring my grandchildren for a picnic there sometime and visit the old neighborhood.”

Submitted 2.1.20

Ed Stately (Rabbit)
Minneapolis, Minnesota

“I remember those beehive fireplaces from when I was a kid. It was in the mid-1970s. I was living in south Minneapolis and as kids we rode our bikes everywhere. We would ride our bikes to Lake Calhoun and one day we decided to ride further and discovered the park with the beehive. It was one of our favorite spots. I had no idea of the name of the park.* We would ride there and pretend there were castles that we either defended or attacked, depending on which team we were on that day.

(more…)

Pam Schmitz
Lakeville, Minnesota

“We often had family picnics in Graeser Park in Robbinsdale. We always just called it ‘the picnic place on Lilac Lane’. My sister remembers it as I do—Highway 100 on one side and West Broadway on the other side.

(more…)

Janet Lehmann Nielsen
San Diego, California

“My Maternal Grandmother found our darling little home at 3108 Salem from 1955-68 for my family. It was and still is a lovely neighborhood. I was a “nature girl”, and back then our alley between Salem and Toledo led to a large wooded area. Lilac Way was like our backyard! The area around Highway 7 and Minnetonka Boulevard on Highway 100 was all woods, lilac bushes as far as the eye could see!

Those were very special times. I would sneak out of the house before dawn and wander along Lilac Way through the woods, checking on all the birdie nests. I spent endless hours and days wandering those woods, climbing the pine trees at the end of Salem Avenue and Highway 7. (more…)

Jacqueline Paster
Crystal, Minnesota

“My brother and I loved it when my parents closed the store on Sunday afternoon to go for a ride, and my dad would drive us around and around the cloverleaf. After my father passed away in 1987, we’d pick up Eddy Arnold’s chicken and eat at Graeser Park on West Broadway with my mother and my two daughters.”

(more…)

John Calhoun
Downers Grove, Illinois

“I grew up in the early ’60s on Vernon Avenue in St. Louis Park. My buddies and I used to go sledding on the hill in the original Lilac Park, next to the Highway 100 bridge. The hill faced north, with Lake Street/Minnetonka Boulevard at the top of the hill. Sledding down into the park, we were just a stone’s throw from the limestone beehive fireplace and picnic tables.”

Submitted 7.11.19

Nancy Kaminski
Minneapolis, Minnesota

“I remember Lilac Way parks from when I was little! We passed by them on Highway 100 when my family drove me to Camp Fire Girls camp out by the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Once we stopped and had lunch on a stone picnic table in one of those little parks. I remember the beehive fireplace. I never knew what the name was, though. I remember the huge lilacs that were there, too.”

Submitted 7.10.2019

Don Scroggins
Alameda, California

“We had a couple end-of-year class picnics at Monkey Island (now Rock Island) when I attended Fern Hill School in St. Louis Park in late ’50s and early ’60s.”

Submitted 7.5.2019

Tim Olson and Michele Wendling Olson
Ball Ground, Georgia

“How about a Lilac Way love story? I met a girl in 1974, we were both 15 years old. She lived on one side of Highway 100 in St. Louis Park, I lived on the other. Thirty five years later we found each other again, reconnecting on the Minnetonka Boulevard bridge near the original Lilac Park for our first kiss. So blessed to now call her my wife. (more…)