Hundreds of teeth found in Downtown Valdosta wall

Amanda M. Usher | The Valdosta Daily TimesCaution tape was placed outside of the Converse Building Wednesday where an estimated 1,000 teeth were discovered buried inside of a second-floor wall Tuesday. The tape cautions on-going construction at the downtown building.

VALDOSTA — Construction workers bit off more than they could chew Tuesday when they discovered teeth buried in a building wall.

Workers were readying commercial space at the T.B. Converse Building, located on North Patterson Street in Downtown Valdosta, when they found an estimated 1,000 teeth buried in a second floor wall.

A photo of the findings had been shared almost 150 times on Facebook as of 1 p.m. Thursday, sparking social media interest.

Dustin Merriman, project manager for Converse, confirmed crew members have disposed of the teeth.

Amidst this discovery, the question as to how the teeth got into the wall has been raised.

Harry Evans, researcher for the Historical Society, said the Converse Building was constructed in 1900. Its first tenant was Dr. Clarence Whittington, a dentist. 

Evans said another tenant was Dr. Lester G. Youmans, who remained in Converse until at least 1930. Youmans came to Valdosta in 1911, Evans said. 

Ellen Hill, Valdosta Main Street director, said the downtown agency caught news of the teeth through social media and began research into the building’s history.

“From what we could tell, that building was the original location of Vinson and Barnes Drug Store, which then turned into Barnes Drugs. ... They were on the first floor of that building,” she said.

She said that, according to her findings, above Vinson and Barnes was an office space on the second floor and lodging space on the third floor.

A receipt, retrieved recently by Valdosta dentist Dr. Pat Powell from an antique store, shows a Dr. L.G. Youmans dated June 12, 1928, Powell said.

“As far as the address, all it says is over Vinson Drug Store. Telephone number is 118, how about that,” Powell said.

Hill said the receipt was for a tooth extraction.

“We’re trying to put puzzle pieces together, so what we’re thinking is that the dentist that was above the drug store was the Dr. Youmans that we have the receipt from,” she said.

Greensboro and Carrolton, two Georgia cities, both have had buildings where teeth have been found in the walls, Hill said. She said those buildings were former dental offices.

“I’m not sure if it was a common practice between dentists at that time, but it’s very strange that there were two other people that said, ‘Hey, we’ve had that happen, too,’” she said.

It’s been suggested that the Lowndes County Historical Society receive the teeth though Donald Davis, Historical Society executive director, couldn’t confirm this.

"The museum would be pleased to receive the teeth; however, it has not been officially confirmed to us that they would be offered," he said.  

VPD Lt. Adam Bembry said nothing has been reported to the police department as of press time.

"So far, we have not been notified or have located any evidence of a crime," Bembry said. 

Amanda Usher is a reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times. She can be contacted at 229-244-3400 ext.1274.

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