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'We hope to bring it back to life': New owners plan to restore St. Ignatius Hospital in Colfax

Austin and Laura Storm bought Colfax's "haunted hospital" this Spring, with big plans to renovate and restore the long-abandoned historical site

COLFAX, Wash. — In the early 20th Century, everyone born in Whitman County was born at St. Ignatius Hospital in Colfax.

And in early 2021, that same hospital was a haven for ghost stories and thrill seekers, after being abandoned for decades.

So when Laura and Austin Storm purchased the hospital earlier this year, they believed it was time for another new story to be written within the hospital walls.

"When you walk in, you can't not have a sense that something is wrong," Austin said. "This is a place, that a lot of love and care went into, and was motivated by love for other people... To see it in such a bad state, it really feels like something is wrong. And we hope to bring it back to life."

Over 7 years ago, on a random drive through Colfax like they'd done thousands of times before, Laura and Austin took their first trip through the haunted hospital.

They expected to find some kind of wild ghost story or supernatural experience.

Instead, they fell in love with it.

"We were just struck with it, and I mean like truly, well and truly struck by it, I think almost to the point of tears," laughed Laura. "We were just like 'We can't believe this is here! It's incredibly beautiful! What are the plans for it? Who's doing anything with it?' "

And so their 7-year pursuit began, ending in a successful purchase on April 23, 2021.

On ripped up walls, they don't see decay, but imagine pillars to build a hotel.

In desolate rooms, they don't spot ghosts, but envision studio space or artist rooms.

"Even though I don't have my own supernatural encounter stories, we've heard a lot of things from people," admitted Austin. "And we love that that's a way that people interact with the building."

But it isn't the only way the Storms want St. Ignatius to be enjoyed.

For now, Laura and Austin continue to offer haunted tours and swag, invite ghost-hunters to travel through their halls, and document each small step of the hospital's renovation.

Their next big obstacle is to secure the building's overall structure-- which they hope to start before the winter, and complete over a 2-year stretch.

"Then we can get to the cool stuff," Laura laughed. "The windows, fleshing this place out... Yeah. We'll get there."

If you'd like to sign up for one of their haunted tours or buy some swag, you can visit their Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign site.

And if you'd like to track every step of their progress, follow them on Instagram @stignatiuscolfax.

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