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Hundreds suffocated from being trampled on each other when a fire broke out in Baltimore’s top club »Historical Journal of the Past» News

Hundreds suffocated from being trampled on each other when a fire broke out in Baltimore’s top club »Historical Journal of the Past» News

Aug 7, 2023 6:07 PM past verb

With the end of Prohibition in America in 1933, nightlife in all major cities of the United States got a new boost. It was no different in Boston, Massachusetts: The city’s most popular entertainment venue has become a former illegal tavern, Cocoanut Grove. However, the silent fun was interrupted by a tragic event on November 28, 1942, because of which many people still remember the name of the place.

A hall in Cocoanut Grove after the fire

A club with a dubious reputation

Built in 1916, the building that housed the club at 17 Piedmont Street became Cocoanut Grove (Kökuszliget, the word for “coconut” is now spelled “coconut”) was a multi-roomed, exotic tropics that grew into a relaxed entertainment venue with a scene.

Decorated with plenty of artificial palm trees and bamboo and thatch decorations, the club was extended into the basement, where the music hall was sandwiched between the kitchens, cold room and pantry.

On the ground floor, in addition to the ballroom with orchestra platform, there was also a dining room and several bar rooms, some of which were created by merging with the adjoining buildings.

Cocoanut Grove officially had a capacity of 470 people, but its owner wasn’t known for following the rules. Barnet “Barney” Welansky is said to have employed street tough people as wait staff and locked several of the club’s exits after patrons tried to leave without paying.

The club’s newest room, the Melody Lounge (Dallamszalon) downstairs, recently underwent a fire safety inspection by the fire brigade, which experts found appropriate – however, Welansky had not requested the proper formal permission to operate the new room as a nightclub (the question is was that due to forgetfulness or indifference).

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Without a permit, the premises cannot receive guests. On the fateful evening, singer and pianist Goody Goodell entertained the audience here on stage.

The fire also broke out in this room, but the cause is still unknown. According to some witnesses, they saw a flash between the palm tree decorations in the Melody Parlour, and then the entire decoration of the hall caught fire.

According to some people, a 16-year-old boy working there tried (illegally) to put a light bulb back in place with a match flame, but this has not been confirmed.

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