Towering five stories above the city of Colfax, Washington, is St. Ignatius Hospital. With its crumbling brick facade, broken or boarded up windows, and overgrown lawn, St. Ignatius plays its role as the town’s haunted house perfectly.

Before venturing into the building’s maze of never-ending hallways, lined with peeling paint and cracked terrazzo floors, visitors must pass a modest square plaque. “CHARITAS CHRISTI URGET NOS,” it reads. Roughly translating to “the love of Christ impels us,” this phrase is also used frequently in Catholic exorcisms.

When the nuns responsible for running the building selected this phrase for their hospital, they could have never imagined that one day, an exorcism might be exactly what St. Ignatius needs.

The History

colfax haunted hospital
On April 17, 1893, ground was broken on one of the first hospitals to serve inland Washington.

The Sisters of Charity, led by Mother Joseph Pariseau, oversaw the construction of St. Ignatius, which was intended to provide care for the denizens of Whitman County.

When completed, the hospital covered 50,000 square feet and boasted six floors, including a basement morgue. Within the first month of seeing patients, ten were admitted, but only three were released.

The first recorded death on the grounds of St. Ignatius was a man by the name of F.E. Martin. In June of 1893, Martin was crushed between two railroad cars. He was transported to the hospital but did not survive.

St. Ignatius became a teaching hospital when the St. Ignatius School of Nursing opened on campus. Its first class of nurses graduated in 1911. The school even produced Washington state’s first ever male nurses. By 1936, a dormitory had opened on the site for nursing students.

Due to the massive size of the hospital, it was a frequent occurrence for new students and nurses to get lost in their first few months. The first floor was home to two emergency departments, which were separated by the severity of each case.

The right wing was intended for patients who were likely to recover from their ailments. Most cases who went to the left, however, never made it to discharge.

St Ignatius Hospital Corridor
The phrase, “left is dead” was commonplace in St. Ignatius, and there was even an elevator straight to the morgue in this wing.

The second floor was the site of obstetrics and maternity, while the third floor was dedicated to isolating and treating infectious diseases. During the influenza outbreak of 1918, this floor saw whole families wiped out by the virus. Surgeries and X-rays were done on the fourth floor.

The fifth floor was designated as private living quarters for the nuns and nurses who lived on campus. While the hospital was in operation, this area was off-limits to patients and guests. Perhaps this is why, today, visitors to the fifth floor feel uneasy and unwelcome.

St. Ignatius operated for 70 years, seeing thousands of births, deaths, and struggles in between. The hospital itself struggled as well, particularly with finances. The maintenance and operation of the hospital were directly funded by community donations and what its patients could afford to pay for their care.

The expense of running the hospital continued growing, until the Sisters of Charity were unable to keep up with it anymore. In August of 1964, St. Ignatius closed, and a new medical facility was built in a neighboring town.

The building stood empty for four years, and stories began to swirl around town of paranormal activity happening within its walls. Despite the rumors, in 1968, the building was sold and transformed into an assisted living facility. St. Ignatius Manor, as it came to be known, served the community until closing in 2000.

St Ignatius Hospital
By 2003, it was officially shut down and the building was abandoned once more.

In 2015, St. Ignatius was added to the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, where it has been listed on the “Most Endangered Watch List” every year since.

This brought the building into public awareness and allowed for stories of its hauntings to spread far beyond local legend. To drive tourism and potentially save the hospital, the Colfax Chamber of Commerce began offering tours of the building.

However, they were swiftly shut down, citing safety issues after multiple guests were attacked on tours and guides were seen running out of the building in terror.

The hospital stood empty for another six years, before it was purchased by Austin and Laura Storm. Passionate about the preservation of historic buildings, the Storms re-introduced historical, photography, and haunted tours to fund restoration attempts at St. Ignatius.

Since tours were opened once more, countless paranormal investigators and enthusiasts have passed through this notorious institution; most returning with tales of chilling encounters.

The Paranormal

St Ignatius Hospital Colfax
Reports include full-bodied apparitions, a mysterious green light that moves about the hospital on its own, and the sounds of laughing, crying, and complete conversations from empty halls.

One of the apparitions appears as a mangled and disfigured man. This is believed to be the spirit of St. Ignatius’s first casualty, F.E. Martin. While his image is terrifying enough on its own, this spirit is mostly harmless, unlike several others that haunt these storied halls.

An angry, dark mass, said to resemble a swarm of bees, has been encountered on multiple occasions. This entity is known to rush at visitors, causing them to flee the vicinity. Other encounters with dark energy in the building have resulted in visitors being kicked, pushed, hit, and scratched.

One guide reported hearing what sounded like a “stampede of people coming up the stairs” while on a tour. When they checked the staircase, assuming someone had broken in, the staircase was totally barren.

Doors are known to open and slam on their own. Throughout the corridors of the hospital, disembodied footsteps can be heard racing toward visitors and many experience the sensation of brushing past invisible people on the edges of the halls.

St Ignatius Hospital Corridor
Some hear growling in their ears and see shadow figures slink from room to room. Screaming and swearing has been heard and captured on audio recordings.

Perhaps one of the most sinister pieces of evidence captured in St. Ignatius was an EVP ordering an investigator to stop praying.

Though the exact number of entities dwelling in the hospital is unknown, there are at least four very distinct entities that can be tied to historical records. These include Michael, John, Father Ryan, and Rosemary. Michael and Rosemary are notably angry and aggressive energies.

Michael is believed to be the strongest spirit in St. Ignatius. He inhabits Room 312, which was his room in life. As a person, Michael was a man with a terrible temper, and that doesn’t seem to have changed in death. He is known to rush visitors, attempting to scare them out of his space.

Michael’s room seems to be constantly overrun with swarms of flies. His is the only room in which this phenomenon takes place.

Another very powerful and unhappy spirit is that of Rosemary, better known as Rose. Rose was a resident of St. Ignatius when it operated as an assisted living facility.

Suffering from dementia, Rose was nearly always in a sour mood. Now, her spirit is known to knock on the walls of her room and to shove people. She has also been captured in several EVPs, making her anger very evident.

The Hospital Today

Haunted St Ignatius Hospital Colfax
Today, to visit St. Ignatius, guests are required to sign a waiver before entering.

A four-hour daytime history and photo tour can be booked for $75, but for the thrill-seekers, many different types of paranormal tours are offered.

The tour lengths range from two-hour hunts to six-hour overnight investigations. They start at $50 for two hours and range up to $1,000 for a private 6-hour event.

On all investigations, equipment is provided for guests to use, including SLS cameras, Ovilus devices, shadow grids, and more.