By Reid Thompson
Whitman County Gazette

PALOUSE – The City of Palouse recently announced the initiation of a feasibility study for the renovation of the iconic St. Elmo hotel building on East Main Street.

With a $50,000 grant from the Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB), the project aims to examine the potential costs of breathing new life into the historic structure, which was constructed in 1888 and has witnessed various uses and ownership changes over the past century.

According to Palouse City Administrator Misty La Follett, community members provided matching donations and Avista Utilities contributed $5,000 for a total of $12,500 in local contributions.

“We have received inquiries from the citizens to help support the match,” said La Follett, “This demonstrates the citizen’s commitment to determine the building’s future.”

La Follett noted that this project is the culmination of years of consideration.

“The preservation of this iconic building has been a topic of conversation for many years, but the cost of restoration has been entirely unknown” said La Follett.

The St. Elmo hotel, standing as the city’s only three-story building, holds great historical significance for the City of Palouse, boasting architectural elements that reflect the city’s past.

Sporting a steep mansard roof adorned with decorative metal shingles, a pressed metal ceiling, and an original 1888 elevator built by the J. W. Reedy Company – one of the state’s first electric elevators – the hotel stands as a tangible relic of the railroad’s heyday in Palouse.

The release of CERB funds for the St. Elmo hotel renovation and other similar projects is subject to specific pre-contract requirements, ensuring finalization of additional funding sources and obtaining necessary permits.

La Follett says that the city will decide on the consultant service by September of this year, with work beginning in October.

A draft feasibility report is expected to be received in November, with a final consultant report produced in December.

The feasibility study is expected to conclude in January of 2024.

The CERB, formed in 1982, serves as a economic development resource in Washington, providing funding to local governments and federally-recognized tribes for public infrastructure aimed at supporting private business growth and expansion.

The St. Elmo hotel feasibility study is poised to become a pivotal project for Palouse, potentially rejuvenating a major part of the city’s historical legacy.

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