The Crossnore School & Children’s Home in Winston-Salem has played a unique role for over 100 years. Formerly an orphanage, the Crossnore campus now acts as a primary safe haven for children whose parents are battling addiction.

The campus contains roughly 213 acres of land—92 of which are a beautiful, urban farm sanctuary. Throughout various changes in economic status and construction, this farm has held Winston-Salem together and served its resident children through a connection to nature, animals, food and more. Piedmont Land Conservancy (PLC) has been working to place a conservation easement on the 92-acre farm so it can remain protected for the Crossnore School & Children’s Home and eventually become a new public trail that expands recreational opportunities for the community to access downtown Winston-Salem.

our role

PLC has been actively fundraising to finance this initiative and reached out to The Conservation Fund for help to bridge multi-year pledges from their donors. We provided a bridge loan of $2 million to PLC so that they could meet the deadline to close on the conservation easement’s acquisition.

why this project matters

This extraordinary initiative will permanently protect rural land—within walking distance of downtown Winston-Salem—so it will never be developed and will continue to serve at-risk children as it was always intended. PLC has created a permanent solution that will forever preserve this amazing community asset and secure a sanctuary to the growing population of children who rely on it. In addition to protecting an important resource for the Crossnore School & Children’s Home, PLC’s conservation easement will open up greater opportunities for recreation in the Winston-Salem region.

Farm landscape. Photo credit: Ginny Weiler.

The property is surrounded by four very different, distinctive communities, ranging from wealthy and business-centric, to bustling and social downtown, to historically middle-class, minority residential areas. PLC’s conservation easement will also allow construction of a public trail that will connect these many differing districts and increase public access and recreation.

about the partnership

PLC was founded in 1990 by a group of citizens who were concerned by the rate of development across North Carolina’s Piedmont—a region in the middle of the state, located between the Coastal Plain and the Mountain regions. One of those citizens was The Conservation Fund’s former board chairman, Mike Leonard, who has worked in downtown Winston-Salem for 34 years and helped guide PLC towards the Fund’s bridge loan. PLC and The Conservation Fund have a long history of partnering to preserve important land across the state.