Moving from Florida to Virginia seems a bit backward (at least to me – I dream of escaping the cold and living in eternal sunshine!) as you often hear of people moving from the cold to the sun’s warmth. But for Sabrina Sutton, leaving the sunshine in Florida for Virginia’s seasons made sense.
Sabrina grew up in upstate NY Saratoga Springs, and after she finished high school, she moved to Florida. With a business management degree and extensive hospitality industry experience, she left FL after 12 years and moved to VA. She knew she’d land on her hospitality feet here – not only did Sabrina land on her feet, but she also jumped all the way in!
In 2013 Sabrina was looking for a sizeable farm-like property to purchase so she and her family could enjoy all that living on a farm had to offer. It didn’t take long before a property dating back to the mid-1800s caught her eye – Mortgage Hall Estate.
Mortgage Hall Estate is nestled in Middleburg’s horse and wine country and sits on 121 acres of pure beauty and majesty. It had been zoned for development at one time, but that ultimately fell through so the property was foreclosed and sold “as-is” through Middleburg Bank. Also, the estate sat empty for over ten years. In case you’re wondering what could happen when a house sits vacant for that long and is sold “as-is,” here are just a few things Sabrina had to deal with after she bought the estate: radiators that had froze and busted, snakes in the house and in the walls, no heat or air conditioning, and there was plumbing but no toilets – in short, the house had to be gutted to make it livable.
But Sabrina could see past all of that. Instead, the estate reminded her of a hotel – big, roomy, touristy, and full of potential and memory making.
Sabrina and her two daughters lived on-site and she spent one year working with a crew and renovation experts to bring life back to the Mortgage Hall. She transformed the shell of Mortgage Hall into a glorious and romantic estate that sleeps 20, can accommodate up to 200 for a company retreat, and hosts weddings throughout the year. The estate is beautifully furnished with furniture bought at auctions and sales. In addition, there is a fire pit to gather around, walking trails, a gas grill for cookouts, and a pond for fishing and picnics.
Once Mortgage Hall was transformed, furnished, and ready for the next chapter, Sabrina would sell it. However, fate stepped in and had another plan. So, instead of selling, Sabrina took the Airbnb route, and for the last eight years, Mortgage Hall has seen success as an Airbnb.
It is rented for corporate retreats, birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. Many repeat visitors return each year – booking for the next year before departing from the current visit.
The transformation didn’t stop at the estate. Sabrina has recently transformed their 30-stable barn into an event space that hosts weddings and special events. With more than 5000 square feet of flexible event space, decorative lighting, and other special touches, the sky is the limit to how guests can transform this space.
In October 2019, Sabrina became the estate’s sole owner; in February 2022, she sold it but continues to manage and lease it from the new owners.
When I asked Sabrina what she was most proud of (there is certainly plenty to boast about!), it wasn’t the impressive transformation of an empty building with snakes and no electricity or toilets into a warm, welcoming, beautifully decorated home. Instead, Sabrina is proud that she has made something special where families gather, enjoy themselves, and make memories that will last a lifetime – just as you’d expect from an estate that has been here since the 1800s.