We are saddened for what has been lost but appreciate what has survived.

And hope to restore what we can.

There used to be thousands of lilacs and seven roadside parks along Highway 100. Here are photos of three of those parks.

From the St. Louis Park Historical Society web site:

“All but gone now, the roadside parks of Highway 100 were nothing less than a phenomenon—so much so that families came out to the highway just for the ride and the opportunity to picnic among the lilacs. The furniture was stone, and the three-family fireplaces took the name ‘beehives.’”

Now, there are only three parks left along Lilac Way: Graeser Park in Robbinsdale and the Lilac Park (formerly St. Louis Park Roadside Park) located near the Nordic Ware tower. The original Lilac Park, just north of Minnetonka Blvd., is scheduled for demolition when Highway 100 is widened, possibly in 2017.

The beehive at the original Lilac Park was relocated to the newly-renamed Lilac Park (formerly Roadside) in Oct. 2008. This historic artifact has been preserved.

1939: Lilac Park, St. Louis Park, Minnetonka Blvd. and Highway 100
 

2007: Lilac Park, St. Louis Park, Minnetonka Blvd. and Highway 100.


Soon to be lost to road construction, these benches were handmade by unemployed stonemasons in the late 1930s, out of limestone quarried from the Minnesota River by the Mendota Bridge.

2007: One of the four remaining stone picnic tables in Roadside (now re-named Lilac) Park near the Nordic Ware tower in St. Louis Park, before restoration. Now restored, Southwest Regional trail users have access to this park on a new trail connection.

This 1939 “beehive” fireplace has been saved, moved to the restored Lilac Park near the Nordic Ware tower. It is now out of the path of future highway construction.

2007: Lilac Park, St. Louis Park, Minnetonka Blvd. and Highway 100.

1939: Enjoying a picnic at one of the Lilac Way roadside parks.

2007: Lilac Park (formerly Roadside), Highway 7 and Highway 100 (near the Nordic Ware tower, right off the Southwest Regional Trail.) Before renovation and beehive relocation.

Rick Birno and the St. Louis Park Historical Wayside Park/Beehive Restoration Project Committee have restored this park by Nordic Ware/Highway 7 with the transplanted beehive, restored park structures and - best of all - landscaping based on the original plans from the 1930s! Lilacs purchased through The Campaign to Restore Lilac Way may help to restore landscaping for this park.

2007: Graeser Park, Robbinsdale. This is one of only two remaining beehives along Lilac Way.

We are very pleased to hear that Robbinsdale is considering purchasing Graeser Park. Read the article.

The landscaping and roadside parks along the entire length of the Lilac Way was designed by A. R. Nichols, the Consulting Landscape Architect for the MN Dept. of Highways, 1930s-early 1940s.

Born in 1881, Nichols was the first landscape architecture graduate from MIT in 1902.

2007: Graeser Park, Robbinsdale. Stairway and fountain.

1940: Graeser Park,

Robbinsdale.

Stairway and fountain.


Graeser Park was named for MN Dept. of Highways engineer Carl F. Graeser—called the “Father of the Belt Line”—who developed the concept, promoted funding, and supervised the construction. It was also known as Robbinsdale Rock Garden Roadside Parking.