Discover the Nora Mill Granary Grist Mill and Country Store in Helen Georgia -Established in 1876, Nora Mill Granary is an operational gristmill sitting alongside the Chattahoochee River in the foothills of the N Georgia Mountains.
This mill stone grinds and produces all kinds of corn and wheat based products such as grits, corn meal, pancake and waffle mixes, flours, biscuit and bread mixes, pioneer's porridge and the like. In addition, there is an old-fashioned country store and gift shop named "Nora Mill Next Door," that is stocked with thousands of new items and even has a large kitchen built just for cooking and serving samples of the mill and store products. Admission is free.
The mill itself is a large four-story building that was built in 1876 complete with 1,500 pound French Burr Mill Stones and a 100 ft. wooden raceway that feeds water to a water turbine - not a vertical water wheel.
The mill was constructed in 1876 by John Martin when he came to Georgia to mine for gold. Unlike most miners, Mr. Martin made Sautee-Nacoochee Valley his permanent homeIn 1902 Dr. Lamartine G. Hardman, governor of Georgia from 1927 -1931, bought the mill and named it "Nora Mill" in memory of his sister Nora. Nora Mill remained in the Hardman Family until 1998, when it, along with 300 surrounding acres, was purchased by a group of investors associated with Nacoochee Village, Ltd.
After a succession of millers throughout the years, in the early 1980s, Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Ron Fain worked with the Hardman family and leased Nora Mill for him and his parents to bring back to life and operate. Ron became the Miller of Nora Mill. Over the years, Ron worked with his parents until their passing, and then brought his youngest daughter Joann in under his wing to learn the art of milling and work the Nora Mill business with him.
Ron and Joann together, developed and brought to market a number of corn & grain recipes that are famous to Nora Mill. Recipes such as "Georgia Ice Cream", "Dixie Ice Cream", "Pioneer's Porridge", and the like. They expanded the product offerings and opened the gift shop next door to the mill and named it "Nora Mill Next Door". Joann and Ron worked shoulder to shoulder until his recent passing in June of 2001.
Nora Mill is now in the third generation of the Fain family operation as Joann Fain Tarpley, with husband Rich, continues to manage and operate Nora Mill Granary. The fourth generation of the same family can be seen at Nora Mill Granary as the children of Joann and Rich are actively working with them at the mill.