There were seven Lilac Way roadside parks in 1939.

Today, only two remain. Lilac Park (formerly Roadside Park) has been carefully restored.

Now, Graeser Park needs to be restored.

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.

Two surviving parks

RESTORED: Lilac Park (originally named St. Louis Park Roadside Park)
  • Location: Southeast corner of Highway 100 & Highway 7/County Road 25 in St. Louis Park, Minnesota
  • 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
  • Inventory completed for MnDOT’s 1997 Lilac Way ‘Historic Roadside Development Structures Inventory’
NEEDS RESTORING: Graeser Park
  • Location: Northwest corner of Highway 100 and County Road 81 in Robbinsdale, MN
  • Needs to be saved, restored and renovated
  • Lovingly maintained by a group of volunteers
  • City of Robbinsdale is hoping for ownership transfer from MnDOT
  • Inventory completed for MnDOT’s 1997 Lilac Way ‘Historic Roadside Development Structures Inventory’
  • Includes both north and south sections

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
  • 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

Scroll through photos of Lilac Way parks in 1939

  • Graeser Park, 1940. Beehive fireplace (upper left), rock garden. Photo: MN Historical Society

  • Graeser Park, 1940. Beehive fireplace (left center), and 10-11 picnic tables. Photo: MN Historical Society.

  • Graeser Park, 1940. Stone stairway leading from Broadway Avenue down into Graeser Park. Photo: MN Historical Society.

  • Blazer Park, 1939. Waterfall. Photo: MnDOT.

  • Blazer Park, 1939. Tapered fireplace. Photo: MnDOT.

  • Blazer Park, 1939. Tapered fireplace. Photo: MnDOT.

  • Blazer Park, 1939. Council ring. Photo: MnDOT.

  • Blazer Park, 1939. Photo: MnDOT.

  • Signpost at Blazer Park on Lilac Way, black and white photo

    Blazer Park, 1939. Entrance sign. Photo: MnDOT.

  • Excelsior Blvd. Park, 1939. Picnic table. Photo: MnDOT.

  • Beehive fireplace in Excelsior Boulevard Roadside Parking Area, Lilac Way

    Excelsior Blvd. Park, 1939. Beehive fireplace. Photo: MnDOT.

  • Excelsior Blvd. Park, 1939. Photo: MnDOT.

  • Excelsior Boulevard Roadside Parking Area, 1939. Photo: MnDOT.

  • Excelsior Blvd. Park, 1939. Parking structure. Photo: MnDOT.

  • Glenwood Avenue Roadside Parking Area, 1939.

  • Glenwood Avenue Roadside Parking Area, 1939. Firepit. Photo: MnDOT.

  • Lilac Park (original), Mtka. Blvd. 1939. Beehive fireplace. Photo: MnDOT.

  • Lilac Park (original), Mtka. Blvd. 1939. Limestone picnic table. Photo: MnDOT.

  • Lilac Park (original), Mtka. Blvd. 1939. Northern rock garden, oval pool. Photo: MnDOT.

  • Lilac Park (original), Mtka. Blvd. 1940. Photo: MN Historical Society.

  • Lilac Park (original at Minnetonka Blvd.), 1941. Photo: MnDOT.

  • Lilac Park, original (Minnetonka Blvd.), 1941. Beehive fireplace and picnic tables. Photo: MnDOT.

  • Lilac Park, original (Minnetonka Blvd.), 1939. Beehive fireplace, rock garden pool and island. Photo: MnDOT.

  • Lilac Park (original), Mtka. Blvd. 1939. Photo: MnDOT.

  • Lilac Park (original), Mtka. Blvd. 1939. Photo: MnDOT.

  • Lilac Park (original), Mtka. Blvd. 1939. Northern rock garden, oval pool. Photo: MnDOT.

  • Lilac Park (original), Mtka. Blvd. 1939. Photo: MnDOT.

  • Lilac Park (original), Mtka. Blvd. 1941. Photo: MnDOT.

  • Lilac Park (original), Mtka. Blvd. 1939. Photo: MnDOT.