Illuminating the Neglected History of Mobile Homes

Hilltop Mobile Park

Millions of Americans call mobile parks home, but their architectural and historical importance is often overlooked.

Eduard Krakhmalnikov (M.S. ’13, Architecture; M.L.A. ’14) is working to correct this oversight. For his master’s thesis, Krakhmalnikov researched the history and development of Hilltop, a mobile home park located in Minnesota’s Anoka County. The experience galvanized Krakhmalnikov into action.

“My research and much of my interest is to find, study, and illuminate what the professions overlook or neglect,” explained Krakhmalnikov. “There are five million people who live in mobile home parks. They are a key part of both our landscape and our history and yet they are largely ignored.”

While in school, Krakhmalnikov rarely heard mobile homes mentioned in discussions of heritage preservation or design, despite their historical significance and continued importance for a large population of Americans. “I can’t stress enough how many generations of people lived and continue to live in mobile home parks by choice. They were essential in providing housing for veterans and their families after World War II, let alone the millions of residents that labor on farms and in factories today,” said Krakhmalnikov.

In addition to utilizing the University’s libraries and the Minnesota Historical Society archives, Krakhmalnikov interviewed current Hilltop residents to complete his thesis. These interviews revealed how strongly individuals in mobile homes and parks value living in them today and helped Krakhmalnikov create a strong case for why these locations should be protected and appreciated.

“I want my research to continue to push people to see mobile home parks not as an accident or aberration, but as an essential part of the landscape. They and the people that live in them deserve nothing less,” he concluded.

Learn more about Krakhmalnikov’s research in the most recent issue Minnesota History.

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