“We have real ghosts.”

Haunted tours of Colfax’s St. Ignatius Hospital fully booked again this October

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MASON MARON

This October, St. Ignatius Hospital’s haunted tours were fully booked once again.

GABRIELLE FELICIANO, Evergreen reporter

Almost every October for the last seven years, St. Ignatius Hospital’s haunted tours have been fully booked for the entire month. This year was no different.

In up to six-hour tours, tourists explore all five floors of St. Ignatius Hospital, the basement and its surrounding grounds at night in search of paranormal evidence. Tour guides lend them a variety of ghost-hunting tools built to capture evidence of the paranormal and send them off to different parts of the hospital before they begin their search.

Over 25,000 people have taken tours of the hospital since they began in 2015, said tour guide Valoree Gregory. Gregory meets tourists from almost every state in America to as far as Scandinavia, with some coming to Colfax just for St. Ignatius Hospital and its haunted reputation.

St. Ignatius Hospital is considered the seventh most haunted place in the country, said Gregory, and news organizations like PBS, People magazine and more have covered it. Famous YouTubers Garrett Watts, Ryan Bergara and Shane Madej have also investigated the hospital, as well as numerous paranormal groups.

Unlike most haunted locations in America, St. Ignatius Hospital keeps tourists in small groups of 10 to 15 per tour, in addition to lending them the aforementioned ghost-hunting tools. Gregory said she had met tourists who visited places with 100 to 150 people on each tour despite being similar in size to St. Ignatius Hospital.

“That’s not fun,” Gregory said. “That is the one thing that we have all agreed on … we have to make sure it’s a great experience for people.”

EZEKIEL NELSON | The Daily Evergreen
A lone table and chair inside one of the rooms of the abandoned St.Ignatius Hospital in Colfax

People who toured the hospital reported hearing voices, being touched, pulled and hit, seeing objects move on their own and even sighting full-body apparitions.

While she was with another tour guide, Gregory said she felt a hard kick. Thinking that it was the other tour guide, Gregory told her she was going to trip. The tour guide responded with “What?” and Gregory realized the tour guide was down the hall and nowhere near her.

Gregory also said that while she was with a police officer, she saw someone walk from one side of a hallway to the other. The officer also saw the figure and, since everyone else was on another floor, said someone must have broken in. When they went to the spot where the figure appeared, there were no doorways: only walls.

Gregory said the scariest night she has ever had was when she and another tour guide gave Gregory’s son and five of his classmates a private tour.

They were on the fourth floor when they heard people running up the stairs toward them. When they looked over the banister, they could not see anyone, but the sound of running persisted. Gregory went down the stairs and toward the sound, which stopped when she reached the third floor. The group immediately left the hospital. Gregory, her son and the other tour guide reentered in case it was a break-in but did not find any signs of one.

Gregory said she used to be a skeptic, but that her experiences at St. Ignatius Hospital made her a believer in the paranormal.

“Since I’ve been in [St. Ignatius Hospital], there are things that I’ve seen and heard that I cannot explain,” Gregory said.

EZEKIEL NELSON | The Daily Evergreen
A worn corridor inside the abandoned St.Ignatius Hospital in Colfax.

Mother Joseph Pariseau, a nun and architect, built St. Ignatius Hospital in 1893. It was the first and only hospital in Whitman County and operated until 1964 when it shut down due to competition with Whitman Community Hospital, known today as Whitman Hospital and Medical Clinic.

The hospital was then used as an assisted living facility until 2003.

“A lot of the extremes of life happened in the building,” owner Austin Storm said. “Extreme joy, like babies being born, and extreme grief because a lot of people died there.”

In 2015, the Washington State Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation declared St. Ignatius Hospital the most endangered historic building in the state. Gregory, who worked for the Colfax Chamber of Commerce at the time, suggested giving haunted tours of St. Ignatius Hospital to both attract tourists to Colfax and raise money for the hospital’s restoration. Thus, most of the tours’ profits go to preserving the hospital, and the remainder is given as payment to volunteers.

Storm said he and his wife/co-owner, Laura, plan to turn the hospital into a community center when it completes restoration but will continue to offer tours even after that.

“We really want to restore the building to new life,” Storm said. “I think that really honors the spirit of the people who created [it]…and still inhabit [it].”

St. Ignatius Hospital also offers historical tours and photography tours of the hospital during the day. People can book tours through their website, or message St. Ignatius Hospital’s Instagram account @stignatiuscolfax to book private tours or tours with larger groups.

People can also donate directly to restoration efforts through their website. All donations are tax-deductible through their partnership with the Whitman County Historical Society.

“We’re not a haunted house. You can go to the Haunted Palouse for that,” Gregory said. “We have real ghosts.”