The Francis Grist Mill, located just outside of Waynesville, NC on Highway 276 was built in 1887. Constructed by William Francis to serve the Francis Cove Community, the mill commonly produced ground wheat, corn and grits for local residents.
The water-powered mill stands beside a small creek that flows downhill. A mill pond, formed by damming the creek upstream and to the south of the mill, fed a partially elevated wooden flume that delivered water to turn the overshot waterwheel.
The mill also served as a central meeting place for the Francis Cove Community. Family, friends and neighbors regularly met at the mill to catch up on news and events.
Throughout the mill’s history the infrastructure has included a yellow popular mill wheel which was later replaced by a steel wheel from Hanover, Pennsylvania.
Members of the Francis family continued to operate the mill until 1976. As a result of inactivity, the mill fell into disrepair until it was restored between 2004 and 2008.
Rehabilitation of the mill included replacement of the deteriorated east sill and siding on the east elevation, repair of the mill machinery, replacement of the waterwheel, an accurate reconstruction of the flume, and a modern rebuilding of the dam. Following the restoration, the mill began grinding grain again in April 2008.
In 2011, the Blue Ridge National Heritage awarded the Bethel Rural Community Organization a grant to support the nomination of the Mill to the National Register of Historic Places.
2013 saw the success of many years of efforts as the Francis Mill added to the National Register of Hisotric Places.