The milling history at Stratford extends over a 281 year period. The first reference to a water powered gristmill located on the Stratford site is found in a 1721 Westmoreland County survey. This early mill was not owned by the Lee family. In 1718, Thomas Lee purchased the land that would become Stratford from Nathaniel Pope. Undoubtedly, Thomas must have visited this milling operation and noted its prime location along the Potomac, bordering this early mill site.
When the Robert E. Lee Memorial Association was formed in 1929, all that remained of the mill structure were stone walls. As the restoration of the Great House began in the 1930, the first Board of Directors decided that the mill should be restored as well. After years of reconstruction, the mill was completed, dedicated and reopened on October 19,1939. The mill has operated ever since, with periods of down time for repairs and maintenance.