It's known as "the beehive," but these days it looks more like a baked potato.
A curious, 10-foot-tall stone fireplace edged against the intersection of Hwy. 100 and Minnetonka Boulevard is all wrapped up and ready to be moved to a spot along Hwy. 7.
The move is part of a larger effort to save and restore remaining bits of historic rest stops along Hwy. 100.
The parks date to the 1930s, when the highway, then known as Lilac Way, was built as a Works Progress Administration project to boost employment during the Great Depression. It was the state's first controlled access four-lane highway and the first segment of the Twin Cities' first beltway.
The park at Minnetonka Boulevard, called Lilac Park, was once one of five along the highway.
But "several of the parks have been destroyed by highway construction," said Jeanne Andersen, trustee of the St. Louis Park Historical Society.
The society has raised more than $7,000 as part of a "Save the Beehive" campaign.
Lilac Park, too, has shrunk in size as its neighboring highway has grown, and few people stop there these days. But longtime St. Louis Park resident Mark Brothen, 65, remembers when it was a popular place for a picnic.
His dad would load him and his five siblings into the car for Sunday drives along the circumference of the cities. They'd stop at the beehives to roast marshmallows or hotdogs.
"We didn't have iPods. We didn't have cell phones," he said. "We used our ears and our eyes. You just drove and you looked."
Now, more than 100,000 cars pass by the beehive each day. Construction along that part of the highway is scheduled for 2014. And the beehive itself is falling apart.
"The fireplace is in poor condition," according to a Minnesota Department of Transportation roadside structure inventory. "It is missing several stones and needs mortar repair."
Once it's moved to a remaining rest stop at Hwy. 7 in St. Louis Park, the beehive will be restored and reunited with other hand-made stone picnic benches and structures built in 1939 and set at the stops.
There, the city is creating a park dedicated to the rest stops and their history.
The park will cost about $220,000, which will go to signs, restoration, trails and other features. It will open in 2009 as part of a 70th anniversary celebration.
"To think that all these structure were built by hand by folks that were out of work," said Rick Birno, St. Louis Park's recreation superintendent. "It's an important part of our history."
Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168