Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Historic Roadside Properties

List of evaluated roadside properties

Graeser Park

Robbinsdale Rock Garden R.P.A.

Stone beehive and stone picnic table with trees and grass
Graeser Park

SHPO number: HE-RBC-025

Graeser Park, also known as Robbinsdale Rock Garden Roadside Parking Area, is located on the northwestern side of T.H. 100 between West Broadway Avenue (Co. Rd. 8) and T.H. 52 (now CSAH 81) in Robbinsdale. The park is located on the western side of the intersection of T.H. 100 and T.H. 52 (CSAH 81).

Significant historic elements and status

Graeser Park was built in 1940-1941 by the WPA and the MHD. The site is one of 23 properties in the 1998 inventory that were built by (or suspected to have been built by) the WPA. It is one of more than 60 properties in this inventory that were designed by, or attributed to, A. R. Nichols.

2023 reevaluation


2020 report evaluation summary

Graeser Park was found not eligible for listing on the National Register due to a loss of integrity after MN 100 was reconstructed during the early 2000s. The reader is directed to a report by Gemini titled The Potential Effect of S.P. 2735-159 on Graeser Park in Robbinsdale (TH100), 2001.

1998 report evaluation summary

This property has been evaluated within the historic context "Roadside Development on Minnesota Trunk Highways, 1920-1960." It is recommended that the property is individually eligible meets the following registration requirements:

  • Important Federal Relief Project: Graeser Park was built as part of one of the state's largest federal relief projects -- the construction of T.H. 100 (the Lilac Way) in 1934-1941. (National Register Criterion A.)
  • Rare Federal Relief Property Type: This wayside rest is one of only seven sites in this inventory that retain stone picnic tables, one of only two properties that retain stone beehive fireplaces, and one of only two that have elaborate rock gardens. (National Register Criterion A.)
  • Significant to the History of Roadside Development: Graeser Park was built as part of the "Lilac Way," an extensive highway landscaping project that was one of the Roadside Development Division's largest, most well-publicized, and most visible, single projects. Designed by MHD Consulting Landscape Architect A. R. Nichols, the Lilac Way's landscaping represents the Division's first large-scale use of flowering shrubs on highway roadsides, and includes a large, coordinated collection of Rustic style roadside parks, bridges, culverts, and retaining walls that were designed to both serve the traveling public and to soften the view of the new highway from surrounding suburban areas. (National Register Criterion A.)
    • Furthermore, Graeser Park is among the 68 Depression-era properties in the inventory that represent the MHD's first large-scale effort to construct roadside development facilities in the state. It is important as an example of the work of the WPA in partnership with the MHD. Together, the MHD and various New Deal agencies like the WPA built a number of distinctive and well-constructed public facilities that met the objectives of roadside development while providing essential work and job training to the nation's unemployed. (National Register Criterion A.)
  • Significant to Transportation History: Graeser Park was built as part of a highway segment important to the history of transportation in the state. T.H. 100, built in 1934-1941, was a highway construction project of regional significance. The highway played a key role in the post-World War II economic development and growth pattern of the western Twin Cities metropolitan area. T.H. 100 is also significant to the history of highway design and engineering in Minnesota and includes such elements as the state's first cloverleaf intersection. (National Register Criterion A.)
  • Design Significance: Graeser Park is an excellent example of the Roadside Development Division's roadside parks of the 1930s. The site's landscaping and structures are unusually well-preserved examples of the "National Park Service Rustic Style" as applied to a roadside development facility. The site's masonry is well-executed, and the stonework displays the special labor-intensive construction techniques and distinctive use of indigenous materials that characterize both the Rustic style and federal relief construction in Minnesota. Graeser Park was built as part of the Lilac Way, an extensive highway landscaping project that is significant within the roadside development work of prominent landscape architect A. R. Nichols. (National Register Criterion C.)

Accessible features on the site

  • Paved, striped accessible parking
  • Accessible concrete walk along Broadway Ave to beehive and picnic area
  • Accessible picnic table with views to sunken rock garden