On November 28, 1942, nearly 500 men and women perished in the Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire. Do their ghosts still haunt the site of the disaster 75 years later?
In 1942, Cocoanut Grove was one of Boston’s most popular nightspots. On the night of the fire, more than 1,000 revelers were packed in a building rated for just 460 occupants. Though officials never identified a specific cause, the blaze likely started after a teenage busboy lit a match near one of the nightclub’s decorative palm fronds. In less than a minute, the fire spread across the nightclub’s fabric-covered ceiling, showering patrons with sparks and bits of burning fabric. The fireball then traveled up a narrow stairway to the main level and soon spread to the entire nightclub.
As flames and toxic smoke quickly engulfed the club, hundreds of panicked patrons raced to the main entrance in a desperate attempt to escape. Sadly, the entrance was nothing more than a single revolving door which quickly became jammed. The nightclub’s other exits were of no use as they’d been blocked or bolted close. One unlocked door swung inward, instead of outward, effectively sealing the mass of panicked people inside.
When firefighters extinguished the flames less than an hour later, they discovered hundreds of bodies piled inside the building’s charred remains. Some patrons were so quickly overcome by the smoke and flames they hadn’t even left their chairs and died with drinks in hand. In total, 492 people died in the blaze and hundreds more were terribly injured.
Today, the Revere Hotel sits where the Cocoanut Grove nightclub once stood. According to local legend, victims of the deadly blaze may haunt the hotel and surrounding area. Eerie events include unexplained bangs, flashes, and thuds in the hotel bar or kitchen. Some people claim to have seen men and women in charred clothing stagger by then disappear. Ghosts of the fire may even haunt Jacques Cabaret just a few blocks away. It seems the building that now houses Jacques served as a makeshift morgue in the hours after the disaster. Now, ghosts lurk in the nightclub, frightening bartenders and spooking guests. One bartender claims he switched off the light one night only to see dozens of bodies piled in rows on the floor. When he flicked the light back on, the bodies were gone.
The Cocoanut Grove fire happened 75 years ago today. Do you think there’s something to the ghostly claims? Or are the stories nothing more than creepy tales inspired by a horrific tragedy?