Hillsborough heritage church finds new life as business centre
German baker Oliver Hofer cooks up new life for church abandoned by congregation in 2011
A church in Hillsborough that is over a century old was saved when a German bakery moved in.
Oliver Hofer runs his bakery, rents office space and even lives in the church.
Before setting up in Hillsborough last year, Hofer ran Hofer's Bakery in Dieppe for more than 10 years.
He decided to move because he needed more space and he was looking to leave the city.
"I like to be out of town a little bit, just the cost of living [in a smaller town] is easier," he said.
Bought church last year
After Philips told him he would have to buy it, Hofer took the plunge.
Along with the help of his grown children, Hofer began emptying the church of leftover materials, which is an ongoing process.
Oliver's Bakery now operates out of the church's old gymnasium.
Squash that is grown in a hobby farm in Hofer's backyard is used in his baked goods.
Hofer and his nephew, a full-time employee at the bakery, live in apartments on the church's top floor.
Now he no longer thinks of it as a church.
"I see it more like a centre. There are doctors here, the blood clinic is here, a bakery is here, a photo studio is here and foot reflexology [clinic] is here, and it brings people back into this building."
The sanctuary, which features ornate, jewel-toned stained glass windows and detailed wood ceilings, is unused.
Hofer said he has plans for it that he is unwilling to reveal at this time.
"I like the sanctuary, the woodwork, and the stained glass, and I like the architecture on it," he remarked.
He is intent on preserving the character of the space.
Gesturing to the high wood ceilings, he said it would have been a shame to lose the building.
According to Hofer, Hillsborough residents have approached him to express their thanks for saving the building.