Church becomes home, sweet home

HOME SWEET CHURCH: Bruce and Gail Thompson enjoy the peace and quiet of their converted church.
HOME SWEET CHURCH: Bruce and Gail Thompson enjoy the peace and quiet of their converted church.

Pulling up a pew takes on a whole new meaning for visitors to Bruce and Gail Thompson's Taranaki home.

The couple live in what was the former St John's Church located by the main road, about 11km south of Hawera.

Thompson, who has owned the property since 1997, originally had plans to run a business from the address, but after the venture fell through, he decided to live in it instead.

"It just sort of became a home," he said.

The church, which was built in 1926, has been completely transformed by Mr Thompson but some of the original features remain.

These include the brick archway, which extends to the roof, as well as the church's pulpit which takes pride of place in the couple's living room.

The majority of the work on the one-bedroom house was done by a builder but Thompson did the painting, wiring and the fittings himself.

He said a lot of the material used in the home was recycled.

However, it wasn't until two years after his wife Gail moved in before a decent kitchen materialised.

The couple said they enjoyed living in their home, especially the amount of space it provided, and its rural setting.

"It's peaceful," said Thompson.

For Mrs Thompson, it did initially take some getting used to when she first moved there in 2004.

"It's the weirdest thing to pull up to the building and think you live here," she said.

Thompson said although the house had to be functional he tried to remain true to the original design of the church as well.

This idea is best demonstrated by the "royal" red and blue stained glass windows displayed throughout the house, which were put in as part of the alterations.

The pair said the house did attract its share of visitors, with some often mistaking it as a place of worship and others asking to take photographs.

"We're always happy to see people," said Mrs Thompson.

The house currently features in an exhibition on the works of architect John Alfred Duffill, called Concepts Made Concrete, which is at Puke Ariki until February 6.

The converted church had also made it on to the internet.

"Someone told me at bowls that my church was on Google," Thompson said.

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