Local Treasures with Pia: Abandoned Colfax hospital gets a new lease on life

Colfax, Washington – When Austin and Laura Storm fell in love with a big old brick building on Mill Street here in Colfax, they didn’t know that much about it other than it used to be St. Ignatius Hospital.

Yes, that St. Ignatius Hospital, the one that has a reputation for being haunted and was featured on the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures show last year.

St. Igantius has been a revered destination for ghost hunters for years, and it has been featured in many videos and shows about the paranormal.

Built in 1894, the hospital operated through 1968, after which the building became a home for elderly and disabled adults, until it closed in 2003.

The roughly 50,000 square foot building then bounced from owner to owner and ended up empty and dilapidated when it caught the eye of Laura and Austin Storm.

At the time, the couple lived in Moscow, Idaho, where they’ve operated the funky secondhand store, The Storm Cellar, for 15 years.

“We really fell in love with the small towns on the Palouse,” Laura Storm said. “We’d go for a drive and get coffee in Colfax and just sort of walk around.”

The couple moved to Colfax, and recently opened Bully For You (220 N Main Street, Colfax) another funky store that features vintage furniture mixed with new clothes, and secondhand finds.

“We love the mix of secondhand and new,” said Austin Storm. “If we find a good deal we can pass on to our customers then we go for it.”

But a hospital? They both laugh.

“We found it online and stopped by,” Laura Storm said, “and we were awestruck by the building. Almost to the point of tears.” From that first look it took seven years before they signed the purchase papers in May of 2021.

In early September, the Storms were close to having raised $50,000 on Indiegogo to help pay for a major roof repair to stop it from raining inside the building.

Future plans include a partnership with a brewery or distillery – Austin Storm said the broiler room just begs to become a pub – and some type of hotel business.

“It’s too big to just have one function,” Auston Storm said. “It has to be a mix of things.”

They have also started giving haunted tours again and tickets can be purchased online at colfaxhauntedhospital.com

The Storms knew the building had a reputation for being haunted, but say so far they have not had any scary experiences there.

“I’m very open there being something more than what meets the eye,” Laura Storm said. “But everyone around the building have been super supportive. They feel like it’s good for the building to finally again be loved on.”

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