On Monday, November 28, the Cocoanut Grove Memorial Committee hosted an 80th Anniversary Remembrance Vigil at the site of the former nightclub, Piedmont Street and Cocoanut Grove Lane in the Bay Village neighborhood. A program of guest speakers will attend and several family members of both victims and survivors plan to attend. A reception will follow at the Revere Hotel’s Liberty Hall and a presentation of “Six Locked Doors,” a documentary will be shown.
The Cocoanut Grove nightclub opened in October 1927, and quickly became the top club in Boston, but with Prohibition followed by the Depression, the club lost its gleam. But with the end of Prohibition, the Cocoanut Grove rebounded and again was the leading place in Boston to go to for entertainment and fun.
On Saturday afternoon, November 28, 1942, Boston College, the undefeated and number one college football team in the country, played Holy Cross College at Fenway Park. The BC Eagles got swamped and lost, 55-12. Lots of BC fans canceled their reservations at the Cocoanut Grove, but it didn’t stop people from heading to the Grove for a night of celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, wedding, and for departing soldiers to fight the War in Europe and the Pacific and this would be the last night to share a drink and a dance.
In the downstairs Melody Lounge, a sedate piano bar, a couple was getting romantic when the fellow removed a small light bulb that hung from a fake palm tree causing some darkness. A teenage busboy tried to screw the bulb back in and struck a match to see the outlet. He blow the match out, but did a spark fly into the fake palm tree fons and start the fire? To this day, fire experts are not sure of the origins of the fire that took the lives of 490 patrons that night of November 28, 1942.
Following the ceremony, a showing of the documentary film “Six Locked Doors” by former Bay Village resident Zach Graves-Miller was shown.
According to Michael Hanlon of the Cocoanut Grove Memorial Committee, there are plans to build a memorial of three archways that would have led to the doors of the Nightclub.