123 Grafton Road in 2011

123 Grafton Road in 2011

123 Grafton Rd in February 2015

123 Grafton Rd in February 2015

We are an exciting community project located on the corner of Grafton Bridge and Grafton Road, Auckland. Over the last four years we have successfully brought the beautiful once derelict Heritage Villa at 123 Grafton Road back to life with the help of community volunteers and NZ businesses donating product. (You can read more about the External Restoration Initiative)

Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4 -RIC94

“Showing a wooden, two storey house, at 123 Grafton Road with verandahs and fence. Ropes can be seen along the verandahs attached to rolled up sunshades. The name on the gate, on alternative images of the same house, is ‘Ditton’. The home of Harold Dennet Heather (in 1896).”
Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4 -RIC94

The house is a two storied wooden gentleman’s residence, built for George W. Basley (c. 1846-1919). Basley initially worked for the Bank of New Zealand, then joined the Justice Department by 1882, serving for several years as deputy-registrar of the Supreme Court at Auckland. He was admitted to the Bar in 1891, and specialised in patent attorney work. Having had this house constructed around 1885, he moved to Parnell just after the turn
of the century and was elected as Mayor of Parnell in 1906. Another noteworthy occupier of the house is the city engineer William Ernest Bush who resided at the Villa from 1911 to 1913 during the construction of the Grafton Bridge, which he oversaw.

The restoration and the historical research continues as the villa at 123 Grafton Rd is used by the community as a space to meet, connect with others, relax, unwind, create and engage with others. We believe that positive open space can make people from all walks of life feel welcome.


Both individuals and community groups use the space. We support the arts in many ways; poetry readings, performance, drawing and music events, workshops, art exhibitions and much much more. We have musical instruments on site, a lounge, reading room, piano room and an open backyard fire for everyone to enjoy.

Sunday Fire Jam, 12 Oct 2014

The space is facilitated by volunteers and offered for free to the community. Students use our space to study, visitors and patients from the hospital come to get away from their worries, business meetings are held here and music is created here. We have a beautifully strong and growing community space.


Through our Heritage Restoration Initiative, numerous individuals have gained their entry back into the work force by working alongside professional volunteers. The positioning of the house by the Grafton Bridge has enabled us to be a lighthouse to those in need both emotionally and materially.

The Great Auckland Bed Race 2014

The community has donated all of the items in the house that make up the community space and continue to donate items that we then give to those in need; parents from the starship hospital often are caught short and need clothes, there are individuals who have no money for clothes or food who we serve, people in the community need tools that we lend out, people dealing with shock from events that bring them to the hospital need a quiet place to rest or a hug and a lending ear, artists need a place to rehears and perform, children living in apartments need a place to play outdoors, people just need other people. We meet an array of needs just as the project’s needs have been met. We are the community serving our community.


Volunteers run our little coffee shop we have at the front of the villa, too. We train baristas who act as the guardians of the villa and offer a friendly conversation for those who feel like a chat or a listening ear.

While we offer coffee for sale to help pay for utilities, people can use the space without a pressure to purchase anything. Essentially, it is a home away from home for many.

Although people can BYO food to the space, ultimately we want to serve food in our community space, build back decks and keep developing the gardens out the front and back. The project is metamorphic in nature as we grow and further develop the site.



We have a long-term (until 2033) lease for the site with a first right to purchase and to renew. That means, we treat the house as it was our own and want to keep her in good shape!

While we can cover a bit over half of the lease amount with rental income from the rooms upstairs, we need your help to keep the project going. It is expensive to run a heritage renovation project even if you don’t have to pay the staff! The major needs for running a volunteer project of this magnitude include but are not limited to:

  • Rent $100,050
  • Rates ~$5,500
  • Insurance $3282.11
  • Utilities
  • Phone and Internet
  • Web hosting

Even a small donation helps!

Ways you can donate:

  • Online banking to Falling Apple Charitable Trust account ANZ 06-0869-0647302-00
  • You can donate using Paypal if you have an international credit/debit card
  • Cash/cheque donations at Hum Salon during opening hours


Big Thank You for your support! This wouldn’t be possible without you.