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!

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, Minnesota

“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

“Our family lived at 3108 Salem from 1955-68. 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. Then cross Highway 7 and explore the ponds by the St. Louis Park Roadside Park (now restored and renamed Lilac Park) next to the railroad tracks. (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…)

Teresa Maki
St. Louis Park, Minnesota

“In 1950 my parents bought their first home on 38th Street in St. Louis Park, on the east side of Highway 100. I remember sliding on the hill near the original Lilac Park on the east side of Lilac Way’s Highway 100 back in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It was two lanes in each direction at that time.

So many homes were built at that time in Robbinsdale that the highway began expanding around 1950. My memories of sledding include the sounds of car tires with chains because everyone had them back then.”

Submitted 8.6.19

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…)

Jonathan Lichterman (Lichty)
River Forest, Illinois

“Good times. Monkey Island (now Rock Island) was a hangout for us kids in the 2600 through 2900 blocks of Raleigh, Salem and Toledo during the late ’70s. That was where we stopped on our way back across Highway 100 to ingest the pure sugar bought at Rogers Gas Station and Park Market amongst the Stonehenge-like runes of Monkey Island.

I had no idea of the actual history of it, and was convinced that it was once inhabited by actual monkeys.”

Submitted 7.5.2019

Michael Pinkerton
Minneapolis, Minnesota

“We grew up on 29th and Salem. My brother Steve McGregor and my younger brother Jeff hung out in the original Lilac Park, along with Steve and Paul Margraf, Howie Reynolds, Mike and Scott Lundin. GREAT TIMES! But you had to be careful sledding in the winter, because I do remember ending up in the northbound lane of Highway 100 once or twice.”

Submitted 7.4.2019

Paul Linnee
Bloomington, MN

“I spent my formative years (ages 4-21, 1950-1967) one block away from the original Lilac Park and Rock Island, which we called “Monkey Island”. I lived at 2716 Toledo Avenue. I spent oodles of time at this park. Not only did I and friends play there, but annually our elementary school classes (both the former Fern Hill at 28th/Joppa and the former Ethel Baston (now Groves Academy) would trek there every spring for our annual school picnic outing. (more…)

Sharon Lehrman
St. Louis Park, MN

“I went to Park Hill Elementary School on Ottawa and Minnetonka Boulevard from 1958-1961. We used to walk to the original original Lilac Park and Rock Island for a picnic at the end of the school year! Great memories of playing hide and seek in all the lilac bushes. I grew up on Xenwood Avenue in St. Louis Park, and amazingly we used to run across Highway 100 in the mid-1960s (at that time I think Highway 100 was called Lilac Way) to play at that park. We also had a few family picnics there.”

Submitted 4.10.2019

Geraldine (Petroskey) Waalk
St. Louis Park, Minnesota

“I grew up in Robbinsdale and live in St. Louis Park now. All family picnics were spent at Graeser Park at Highway 100 and Highway 52 (now 81). This is a photo of my 3rd grade class at Graeser Park – probably a school picnic at year end. (more…)

Lynn Betts
Independence, MN

“I enjoyed picnics at Graeser Park on Sunday family drives. That was in the fifties. Many families packed picnic lunches and let the kids run and play. After the highway came through some picnic tables were left and some lilacs, but not like it had been.

I loved the beehive fireplaces. My Dad made a similar one for our backyard out of matching stone to our house in Richfield. Highway 100 changed so much of the country feel.”

Submitted 3.29.2019

Roger Bergman
Golden Valley, MN

“I remember going to Graeser Park many times back in the late 50’s and early 60’s. But more than Graeser Park we spent time at the picnic area on the west side of the train bridge and north of 43rd Avenue, on the west side of 100 (Graeser Park South). (more…)