Annual Music at the Mill held Sept. 14

Dedicated to the restoration and preservation of the mill
Aug 28, 2013
The Francis grist mill in Waynesville, above, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Francis Mill is restored and has the distinction of being the only grist mill in Haywood County listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

The Francis Mill Preservation Society would like for you to join them in celebrating the preservation of the 126 year old, Francis Grist Mill and our local heritage at the eighth annual Music at the Mill from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 14.

The 1887 timber frame mill, located in Waynesville, North Carolina, in the Great Smoky Mountains, operated until 1976. More than just a place of business, the mill served as the mountain community’s social hub for many of its early years.

The great-great-granddaughter of the William Francis, who built the mill, did not want to lose this piece of rural mountain heritage, and in 2003 contacted Heritage Conservation Network (now called Adventures in Preservation) for assistance and advice. At that point, the mill was on the verge of collapse.

In July 2004, the two organizations hosted a hands-on building conservation workshop, during which volunteers completely stabilized the building’s framing, ensuring it would survive the winter. Two-week workshops were held again in 2005 and 2006.

Then, the FMPS organized a number of its own workdays and work-weekends at the site. In July 2007, a new twenty four foot water wheel was installed, the third wheel in the mill’s history. Workers then finished construction on the flume, and repaired the mill pond dam.

Later, millwright, John Lovett, reassembled the mill machinery, sharpen the mill stones (which are original to the Francis Mill) and taught the FMPS volunteers to grind corn. The vast majority of the labor was done by volunteers from near and far, who contributed over 4,450 hours of their time with more than $55,000 of in-kind donations.

For the last several years, fundraising has gone hand in hand with hewing and hammering with funding for the workshops and restoration being provided by grants from SPOOM, the Society for Industrial Archaeology, the Terence L. Mills Preservation Fund for North and South Carolina, the Haywood County Community Foundation, the Bethel Rural Community Organization, the Janirve Foundation and the Steele Reese Foundation, Blue Ridge Heritage Area, as well as many individuals, and Waynesville area businesses.

The FMPS first pioneered “Music at the Mill” as a very successful bluegrass and barbecue festival at the mill site in 2006. The festival grew and the tradition continues this year at the Eighth Annual Music at the Mill. The celebration is scheduled for Sept. 14 when there will be a mix of music at the Francis Mill.

Whitewater Bluegrass Co. and Hill Country Band will entertain visitors with bluegrass favorites. The Frog Level Philharmonic will provide spectators with a blend of Dixieland and jazz.

All proceeds from this event go to the continuing preservation of the Francis Mill, educational and heritage programs. No pets are allowed.

Advanced tickets for an afternoon of music are $7. Advance tickets are available at Elements Salon in Waynesville or Mountain Dreams Realty in Maggie Valley, or by calling 456-6307.