The mill was added to the National Register of Historic Places for its contributions to the history of Francis Cove and Waynesville.
Built in 1887 by William Francis, the Francis Grist Mill has served as a focal point of the rural community for more than 100 years. A concerted effort by volunteers, led by the Francis Mill Preservation Society (FMPS) with assistance from Adventures in Preservation, has been responsible for the mill’s restoration. Close to collapse in 2004, the mill is now fully functional and open to school groups and others as an educational resource.
Funding for the mill’s restoration was provided by the Society for the Preservation of Old Mills (SPOOM), the James G. K. McClure Foundation, the Society for Industrial Archaeology, the Terence L. Mills Preservation Fund for North and South Carolina, the Haywood County Community Foundation, the Steele Reese Foundation, the Janirve Foundation, the Bethel Rural Community Organization, MAST General Store, and the Francis Cove and Waynesville communities. Other contributors were the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, the Francis Mill Preservation Society, the Bethel Rural Community Organization, Haywood County Historical and Genealogy Society, MAST General Store. Clay Griffith of Acme Preservation Services of Asheville, and Patrick Willis, a friend of the mill, prepared the nomination.