BLUE EARTH, Minn. (FOX 9) - A former funeral home turned family home in southern Minnesota is up for the title of the "Ugliest House in America" on an HGTV show.
The home is owned by Noel and Renee Johnson in Blue Earth, Minnesota, a city just north of the Iowa border with a population just north of 3,000. The couple is working to breathe new life into the building.
"We have a pioneering spirit in these small towns where it’s like, we can create things out of nothing," explained Noel. "We can make dead things come to life and that’s even our vision with this home."
Just off the town’s main street, Renee and Noel Johnson think their house is the "Ugliest Home in America."
"We bought it for $60,000," said Noel. "It will, when it’s all done, finished, be over 7,000 square feet on three-fourths of an acre in town. So we got a real good deal on the property."
The home once used to celebrate the dead has now become a living space. They closed on the home on Halloween night of 2020 and right away got to work bringing new life into a former funeral home that sat out of use for nearly two decades.
"We kind of joke that maybe we have extra babysitters or angels kind of watching," said Renee. "There’s a lot of sounds the house makes, so I mean it never really leaves the back of your mind."
Their children use the former visitation area as a play area and the embalming room will become a laundry room. The large home has three furnaces, two staircases, and a lift.
"We did have to sign a paper saying we wouldn’t turn it into a funeral home," added Renee.
They don’t have any plans to do that, but the home isn’t leaving the family anytime soon either. Noel grew up in town and has celebrated the lives of his own family members inside those walls.
"His great aunts, he went to burials here, his mom has been to lots of funerals here," said Renee.
Renee and Noel Johnson (FOX 9)
A home that served the community with thousands of funerals, now serving their growing family, and they plan for it to stay in the family for decades.
"With having five kids, we’re hopeful that one of them will then take over and raise their family here, we see it in the family for a very long time," explained Renee.
The Johnson family home is one of a dozen homes across the country competing on HGTV’s show "Ugliest House in America." The first episode of the show aired on Monday night, and the winner will eventually receive a $150,000 home renovation.
A prize that would help get the Johnsons started on their plans to renovate most of the property.