History of the Falls HotelThe Falls Hotel is a two story Kauri building and was built in 1854 by "Long John" McLeod, a mill manager for Thomas Henderson (the founder of Henderson), and was constructed to provide accommodation for the workers at Henderson Mill. It was originally built on the corner of, what is now known as Rail Side Avenue and The Great North Road.
The original Hotel is said to have had 22 rooms, a small general store as well as handling the local mail. The first hotel manager was John McLeod although it is not known if this is the same John McLeod who built the building.
The name of the building has changed over the years. In 1873 it was known as McLeod's Hotel and then changed in 1874 to Aritui Hotel and then 5 years later it was changed to Oratia Hotel. These name changes are thought to have occurred whenever a new manager was in charge and a new license was needed. In the 1880's it was renamed Falls Hotel, probably because of it close proximity to the Waitakere Falls. The Waitakere Falls were the most spectacular falls in the ranges until the reservoir dam was built which slowed the falls to a trickle. Again the name changed in 1925 to the Central Boarding House and in 1931 it changed to Central Private Hotel but was used as boarding house for the next 30 years.
During this time Steve Ozich was the owner and he is responsible for a lot of the changes that were made to the building from its original state. He added the bathrooms at the rear of the building; he made two extra doorways onto the verandas on both levels and also added screens to the end of those verandas. He also had a bit of bad luck, as he was the owner when there was a fire in the building in 1953. The fire was started by a plumber's blowtorch, but it was not the fire that made the biggest damage. It was the amount of water that was used to put the fire out that ruined the entire interior and meant that Steve, virtually, had to start again. Steve Ozich continued to stay at the Hotel until 1991 even after he sold it to the Norcross Family, in 1978.
The Norcross Family have run businesses in Henderson for over 75 years and were kind enough to gift the building to the community in 1996 and thanks to the mayor of Waitakere city, Mr Bob Harvey, and his council the building was shifted in December of that year to its current resting place.
In 1997 Henry Norcross was appointed the chairman of the Reconstituted Falls Hotel Preservation Trust and proceeded to complete the restoration. The very next year the restoration was complete and the Falls Hotel was opened for business on June 22nd 1998. The Mayor of Waitakere City officially re opened the building on July 25th 1998.
For over 150 years The Falls Hotel has continued to be an integral part of the community's past and it is suggested that we are in one of the oldest (if not the oldest) buildings in Henderson.