The deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history, the Cocoanut Grove nightclub burned on November 28, 1942, killing 492 people.
Video: On the 70th anniversary (in 2012) of the Cocoanut Grove fire, three survivors told their stories to NFPA Journal®. Ann Gallagher was a 16-year-old girl from NH who was in Boston with her family. Marshall Cole, another 16-year-old, was employed at the popular nightclub as a dancer. He has vivid memories of escaping the fire. Dr. Saul Davis, interviewed in 2007, also gives a harrowing account of the fire that claimed the lives of so many.
The Cocoanut Grove Fire
The Cocoanut Grove Fire website is a collaborative effort that brings together original and secondary sources from the collections of local Boston institutions (including NFPA, the Boston Fire Department, the Boston Historical Society, the Boston Fire Museum, the Boston Public Library, the City of Boston Archives, and Massachusetts General Hospital)and people interested in preserving the history of the fire. The site includes detailed information on the fire, its victims, first-hand acounts of survivors, the nightclub, as well as advances made in the medical, legal, and codes and standards fields as a results of the fire. This initiative is a work in progress and subject to continual updates. We welcome and encourage anyone who may have information, documents, or artifacts to let us know.
- On the 70th anniversary of the Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire, NFPA launches a new effort to collect and conserve the event’s stories and artifacts.
NFPA Journal®, November/December 2012
- Boston Fire Trail: A walkable guide to the city’s fire and disaster history.
Celebrated and much imitated, the Freedom Trail winds through Boston marking highlights of the American Revolution, ranging from Paul Revere’s home to the Battle of Bunker Hill. An unmarked trail, more somber but no less significant, also winds through Boston, a city that has seen more than its share of major fires and disasters, including The Great Boston Fire of 1872, the 1942 Cocoanut Grove Fire, and the collapse of the Hotel Vendome in 1972.
NFPA Journal®, May/June 2011
Last Dance at the Cocoanut GroveTo those unfamiliar with the Cocoanut Grove, the name itself brings to mind palm trees, laughing crowds, coconuts, dancing and just a good place to go and enjoy oneself with friends. The Grove had all of this. But, this is not how it's remembered. In Boston, the Cocoanut Grove is etched forever in history as a city's worst nightmare, with piercing screams, wild-eyed panic, and terrible heartbreak. We look back at personal stories of those who were at The Grove that night: the patron, the employee, the firefighter, the serviceman, and the doctor.
NFPA Journal®, November/December 2007
- "Searching for Answers to the Cocoanut Grove Fire" (PDF, 2.5 MB)
NFPA Journal®, May/June 2000
- NFPA members only: NFPA Fire Investiation report from 1962: Cocoanut Grove Night Club, Boston, MA, 11/28/42, 492 fatalities. (PDF, 6 MB)