Rising up from the heart of Great Falls, a stoic edifice among the surrounding residential buildings, the Columbus Center’s striking but humble façade is an unwavering symbol of the city. Upon entering the building, one can’t help but feel especially grounded in time and space. There’s a sense of connection to the past, without feeling that you’ve left the present.
Only seven years after its founding, Great Falls already had a population of nearly 10,000 and growing. The need for a hospital was evident. In 1892, Doctor Albert Longeway was contracted by the Boston and Montana Smelter to provide care for the men who worked there. He partnered with several other doctors, as well as the Sisters of Providence, and building began. The original hospital was only a 60-foot by 30-foot frame building, and still unfinished when the Sisters arrived. In April of the following year, excavation began for a permanent brick structure.
In its years as a hospital, the Columbus Center would see a great deal of disease and hardship. The area experienced epidemics of Typhoid, Smallpox, Scarlet Fever, and Spanish Influenza that were devastating. Coupled with the fact that the main sources of work at the time were mines and other dangerous occupations, the hospital, while renowned for its exemplary caregivers who brought peace and joy to their patients, saw its fair share of death.
It’s no wonder then, that though it serves a new purpose as a professional building, there are rumors and whispers that former occupants still reside there. The basement, especially, is purported to have two ghostly residents. Most supernatural reports are limited to strange occurrences—papers flying off of desks, the elevator voluntarily descending from the vacant seventh floor, and similar eerie but harmless accounts.
The building is still very much alive. Former hospital rooms now serve as professional offices for therapists, photographers, dietary consultants, artists, genealogical researchers, financial consultants, and others. The tenants don’t seem to mind sharing the space with their spectral roommates, and business goes on day to day unhindered.