Randall Park Trailer Camp
Although now a beautiful park and part of Engineering Hall, in the years immediately following World War II, this was the site of a trailer park built to house the tremendous influx of students at the University of Wisconsin. A large majority of these students were veterans, who lived in these trailers with their fellow students or their families, while they used their GI Bill to gain a university education.
Backstory and Context
After the victory in World War II, the University of Wisconsin-Madison promised to “admit all the students it can house”. The enrollment of the university tripled between 1944 and 1946 as veterans returning from war took advantage of the GI Bill and went on to higher education. To alleviate the shortage of housing, the university took creative measures to find a way to house all of these students; they used houseboats, overnight cabins, and even established trailer parks.
The first of these trailer parks was known as Randall Park Trailer Camp. It was erected in August, 1945, and it consisted of 91 living trailers (64 standard and 27 expansive), four toilet units, and two laundry units. Each trailer had sleeping for four and a hot plate for cooking. The population of the camp was restricted to veterans and their families, who paid $25/month rent for a standard trailer and $32.50/month rent for an expansive trailer.
The Randall Park Trailer Camp was the first “vetsville” on a university campus in the country. It was so popular among its residents that the university decided to erect another one, the Monroe Trailer Camp. The Monroe Trailer Camp consisted of 113 trailers and was located to the south of Randall Park Trailer Camp. With construction set to begin on the East Wing of Engineering in 1951, the Randall Park Trailer Camp was cleared and its residents moved to Monroe. The Monroe Trailer Camp lasted until 1955.
Feldman, Jim. The Buildings of the University of Wisconsin. Madison, Wisconsin: The University Archives, 1997.