March 2, 2017

Coconut Grove Night Club Fire

In 1942 one of the world's worst nightclub fire happen in Boston. On the night of November 28, 1942, 491 people died at the Coconut Grove nightclub. This is still the worst nightclub fire in History.

Grove Street View

Twelve things that I learned about the nightclub fire:

  • The official cause of the Cocoanut Grove fires is being "of unknown origin"
  • Most people died because of inadequate exits and toxic smoke
  • One person killed himself at the hospital when he found that his wife died in the inferno. Official records count include this death in the records - 492 deaths as a results of the nightclub fire
  • 160 people were injured in the fire
  • The nightclub was zone to hold only 460 people.
  • The main part of the fire was put out within 30 minutes of it starting.
  • Buck Jones, a famous Movie cowboy star, died from injuries sustained from the fire
  • Boston City Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital treated burn victims
  • At one point patients were arriving at Boston City Hospital every eleven seconds.
  • Burn Hospital Victims were treated with penicillin the first time for the civilian population
  • Barney Welansky, the owner of the club was convicted of manslaughter in connection and sent to prison for 12-15 years.
  • Barney only served four years of the prison term.

As results of the fire

  • New safety codes require all revolving doors must have regular outward-swinging doors nearby.
  • New innovation to help burn victims
  • New Legal rules on building owners on maintaining safe conditions to the buildings.

Piedmont Street Today

Today the site of the former nightclub is a parking garage and a large empty lot. The area of the original main dining room is now a new street called Coconut Grove Lane.

In 1993, on the 50th anniversary of the fire, a memorial plaque was placed at the original location of the nightclub. The plaque is placed on the sidewalk near where the revolving door was located. (Many of the victims died as a result of the rush to the revolving door.)

The plaque reads:

Erected by Bay Village Neighborhood Association. In Memory of the more than 490 people who died as a result of the Coconut Grove fire on November 28, 1942. As a result of this terrible tragedy major changes were made in the fire code and improvements in the treatment of burn victims no only in Boston but across the nation.

"Phoenix out of the Ashes"

This plaque crafted by Anthony P. Marra, Youngest Survivor of the Coconut Grove fire. You can see a map of the nightclub on the plaque, and the revolving door

Anthony P. Marra was a Cocoanut Grove Club employee who escaped the fire.

Coconut Groveplaque

Location of the Plaque

The plaque is located at the corner of Piedmont Street and Coconut Grove Lane, (17 Piedmont Street.) It located just underneath the lamp post sign.

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