Experience the strange world of Vent Haven in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky

Kevin J. Elliott
Replicas of dummies used by Edgar Bergen at Vent Haven

Born in 1878 as the son of a German Shakespearean actor, W.S. Berger grew up around live theater. Though much of his life was spent as a Cincinnati businessman for the Cambridge Tile Company, Berger was always attracted to the stage, and especially to ventriloquism.

Berger was only ever an amateur ventriloquist (and apparently not a very good one), but he enjoyed it so much that he began collecting dummies in earnest in 1910 with the acquisition of his first piece, Tommy Baloney. As the president of the International Brotherhood of Ventriloquists from the 1940s until 1960, he championed the art form, even publishing a monthly newsletter. By proxy, his Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, home became the center of the ventriloquism universe.

Vent Haven, dedicated in 1973, now boasts a collection of over 900 dummies in the three tiny buildings Berger built to house them, and it attracts hundreds of global “vent” enthusiasts to its annual conVENTion.

Continue reading on Columbus Alive.