Cultural Arts Center

A ghost called Esther haunts the one-story pottery addition attached to the west side of Columbus's Cultural Arts Center. The Center itself is a castle-like building that stands at 139 West Main Street, alongside Bicentennial Park. You can take an art class or exhibit your work here, if you contact the Department of Recreation and Parks. It's used year-round now and is often filled with students, instructors, and patrons--many of whom see the bedraggled visage of a woman in nineteenth century clothes through the narrow windows of the pottery room. She sometimes appears among the tables and pottery wheels inside the room--sometimes only her top half, sometimes with her face completely obscured.

No one is sure if Esther is the ghost's real name, but it's as good as any considering local history. A woman named Esther Foster was put to death alongside James Clark on February 9, 1844, not far from here--at the southwest corner of Mound and Scioto Streets. Both had been found guilty of prison murders, Clark for killing a prison guard with an axe, Foster for doing another female inmate in with a fire shovel. This was the era of public hangings, and the spectacle of a double execution involving a woman (a relative rarity) was enough to bring spectators in from all the surrounding towns. The crowd was so large and unruly that a man was trampled to death by a horse.

Is "Esther" really Esther Foster, unable to leave the area where she was put to death before her time? The real Esther Foster was black, but no one has been able to tell whether the ghost is or not; her face is too indistinct.

There happens to be one more ghost at the Columbus Cultural Arts Cener: the presence in the basement. If you take the elevator down to the low-ceilinged cellar of the building to get lunch from one of the vending machines you might feel the sensation that you're not alone, or that you are being watched from one of the tunnels nearby.



Smith, Robin. Columbus Ghosts. Worthington, OH: Emuses, Inc., 2002. pp. 81-84.