One of the United States' most notorious fire tragedies. A major fire struck the Cocoanut Grove nightclub located at 17 Piedmont Street in Boston, Massachusetts on the evening of November 28, 1942. On the night of the fire, the club had approximately 1,000 occupants, many of whom were servicemen preparing to be deployed for duty during World War II. A lighted match used by an employee in changing a light bulb or an electrical short have been considered the most likely causes for this fire, which ultimately claimed 492 lives, including actor Buck Jones. Almost half of the occupants were killed, and many were seriously injured. Flammable decorations spread the fire rapidly. Men and women were reported to have clawed inhumanly in an effort to exit the building. After the fire had been extinguished, the two revolving doors at the main entrance had bodies stacked four and five deep behind them. Authorities estimated that possibly 300 of those killed could have been saved had the doors swung outward. It should be noted that the capacity of the structure had also been exceeded. The Cocoanut Grove fire prompted major efforts in the field of fire prevention and control for nightclubs and other related places of assembly. Immediate steps were taken to provide for emergency lighting and occupant capacity placards in places of assembly. Exit lights were also required as a result of the concern generated by this fire. The club's owner, Barney Welansky, was charged with manslaughter.
Bio by: Warrick L. Barrett
Commemorative plaque on both sidewalk and wall where building once stood.