361 Beacon was designed by architect F. H. Jackson and built in 1872 by Weston & Shepard, builders, one of three contiguous houses (361-363-365 Beacon) designed as a symmetrical unit with 363 Beacon in the center, one story higher and with a bay centered on the façade, flanked by 361 and 365 Beacon. There is no architect named Jackson with a first name beginning with “F” listed in the Boston City Directories for the 1870-1874 period, and it appears likely that F. H. Jackson was Francis Henry Jackson, a real estate and mortgage broker who described his occupation as “architect” in the 1860 US Census.
The houses were built for investment banker Henry Chapman Wainwright for speculative sale. He is shown as the owner on the original building permit application for the three houses, dated April 5, 1872, and as the owner of all three on the 1874 Hopkins map.
By 1874, 361 Beacon was the home of Richard Henry Dana, Jr. and his wife, Sarah (Watson) Dana. In 1873, they had lived at 43 Chestnut, and before that at 79 Marlborough.
Richard Henry Dana was an attorney and author. In 1840, he published Two Years Before the Mast, an account of his voyage as a seaman, sailing around the Horn to California. He also authored numerous other books and articles. As an attorney, he was prominent in the legal defense of people involved in the protection of fugitive slaves. He served as US Attorney for Massachusetts from 1861 to 1866, and in 1867-1868 served with William M. Evarts as counsel for federal government in the proceedings against Jefferson Davis for treason.
The Danas continued to live at 361 Beacon in 1878. They had moved by the 1878-1879 winter season, but he continued to own the house until his death in January of 1882. R. H. Dana’s Heirs are shown as the owners on the 1883, 1888, 1895, and 1898 Bromley maps.
By the 1878-1879 winter season, 361 Beacon was the home of George William Pettes and his wife Mary Rebecca Hathaway (Balch) Pettes. They had lived at 116 Marlborough in 1877.
George Pettes was an editor, journalist, and advertising agent. and previously had been a chemical merchant. He is credited with authoring American or Standard Whist (published in 1881) on the card game whist, although it may have been written by his son, George Wesley Pettes, who lived with his parents at 361 Beacon and was employed at the Boston Customs House (the book was authored by “G. W. P.” and is frequently credited to George William Pettes; however, the Book News for June, 1891, indicates that George Wesley Pettes wrote Whist in Diagrams in that year and also wrote a column on the game for the Boston Evening Transcript, both written under the name “G. W. P.”).
They continued to live at 361 Beacon in 1882, but had moved to the Longwood area of Brookline by 1883.
By the 1882-1883 winter season, it was the home of Thomas Kittredge Cummins, a commission merchant, and his wife, Mary Ann (Paschall) Cummins. Mary Ann Cummins died in July of 1885.
By 1887-1888 winter season, 361 Beacon was the home of John Marshall Ward, treasurer of the Boston Theatre, and his wife, Elizabeth (Tolman) Ward. They previously had lived at 31 Gloucester.
Living with them were his mother, Amanda (Atherton) Ward, the widow of Charles Trowbridge Ward, and his sister, Catherine Dexter (Ward) Perry, the widow of William Cabot Gorham Perry.
Amanda Ward died in January of 1888. John and Elizabeth Ward and Catherine Perry continued to live at 361 Beacon in 1896.
Catherine Perry married again in November of 1896 to Charles Shelman, a planter in Georgia. John and Elizabeth Ward moved from 361 Beacon at about the same time.
The house was not listed in the 1897 and 1898 Blue Books.
During the 1898-1899 winter season, 361 Beacon was the home of Mrs. Annie (Condon) Ellis, the widow of Thomas Ellis. In December of 1898, her two daughters were married in a double ceremony, Ruby A. Ellis to William Ashbrook Bryant of New York City, and Bertha K. Ellis to Guy Warren Day, also of New York City.
361 Beacon was not listed in the 1898-1900 Blue Books.
By the 1900-1901 winter season, 361 Beacon was the home of Mrs. Caroline Miller (Bigelow) Amory, widow of George Washington Amory, and their daughters, Caroline and Constance Amory. George W. Amory had died in September of 1899. He was a cotton buyer. They had lived separately, he at 10 Charles Street (and in Bourne) and she and their daughters at 228 Beacon.
During the 1906-1907 winter season, Caroline Amory and her daughters were living elsewhere and 361 Beacon was the home of Miss Ida Gertrude Beal and her sister, Miss Judith Drew Beal. They previously had lived at their family home at 104 Beacon.
By the next season, Ida and Judith Beal had moved to 241 Marlborough, the home of Miss Madeleine Curtis Mixter, and Mrs. Amory and her daughters were once again living at 361 Beacon.
In November of 1907, Constance Amory married Philip Wadsworth, an architect, and moved to Milton.
In 1907, 361 Beacon was acquired by the estate of Ida and Judith Beal’s father, James Henry Beal The James H. Beal Estate is shown as the owner on the 1908 Bromley map, and Thomas P. Beal et al, trustees, were the assessed owners from 1908. Thomas P. Beal and Boylston A. Beal, Trustees, are shown as the owners on the 1912, 1917, 1928, and 1938 Bromley maps.
Caroline Amory and her daughter, Caroline, continued to live at 361 Beacon until February of 1910, when they moved to 13 Marlborough. By April of 1910, 361 Beacon had become the permanent home of Ida and Judith Beal.
Judith Beal died in August of 1921. Ida Beal continued to live at 361 Beacon until her death in December of 1936. She also maintained a home at Magnolia.
361 Beacon was shown as vacant in the 1937 and 1938 City Directories.
In 1938, 361 Beacon was acquired by David R. Anderson, an auditor, and his wife, Shirley Bennett (Locke) Kennedy Anderson. He was the assessed owner from 1939. In August of 1938, he applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into three apartments. In August of 1939, he amended his application (and received approval) to convert the property into five units.
By 1949, 361 Beacon was owned by Joseph C. Butera and his wife, Sylvia. They were the owners of the Butera School of Fine Arts, which moved from 240 Huntington to 111 Beacon in about 1950.
They lived in one of the apartments at 361 Beacon until about 1952, when they moved to live at 111 Beacon.
In August of 1965, 361 Beacon was acquired by Jack Eadie Molesworth from Sylvia L. Butera. Jack E. Molesworth was a philatelic dealer specializing in Confederate stamps. A leader of the ultra-conservative Young Americans for Freedom and a Republican State Committee member, he was an unsuccessful candidate for Congress in 1964. He and his wife, Phyllis (Carpinteri) Molesworth, lived in an apartment at 88 Beacon.
In July of 1975, Kent T. Damon and Irwin H. Frankel purchased 361 Beacon from Jack Molesworth. In May of 1986, they applied for permission to remodel the fourth floor and add a fifth floor. They subsequently abandoned the permit. In January of 1987, they applied for (and subsequently received) permission to legalize the occupancy as six (rather than five) apartments, noting that it had been the existing condition for “20-30 years.”
In May of 1987, Donald J. Cannava, trustee of the KIRV Trust, acquired the house from Kent Damon and Irvin Frankel.
361 Beacon remained an apartment house, assessed as a four- to six-family dwelling, in 2014.