Janice Clifton, Owner of Virginia Cliffe Inn
Janice Clifton has made a second act out of transforming her childhood home into a gorgeous inn and wedding venue. The Virginia Cliffe Inn is a dream that came true with creativity, hard work and vision—and an appreciation of the property’s historic past. And this accomplishment is one of the many things that makes Janice a cool person.
As Janice gave us a tour of the Inn on a sunny early Fall day, I couldn’t help but be completely impressed with the business she has created—and envy this second act: All this beauty, all around. I love to entertain and have always harbored a secret dream of owning an inn. How many of we Boomers have harbored the same fantasy?! To have this property as your workplace every day, I think this is the very definition of a labor of love.
For Janice, this labor of love meant coming home, back to her roots, surrounded by history and memory. And now she gets to share it with the community.
The Virginia Cliffe Inn is the first—and still the only official—Bed and Breakfast in Henrico County, about 15 miles from downtown Richmond VA. She related to us the fascinating history of the property. The Inn is located at 2900 Mountain Road in Glen Allen. The road follows the path laid out by the Powhatan Indians. This section of Mountain Road was traveled by Thomas Jefferson on trips between Williamsburg and Charlottesville while building his famous home at Monticello.
When Janice’s father came back from service in WWII, he became a builder, and always had his eye on this property. In 1950, an old farmhouse stood on the grounds. Janice’s father and mother, newly married, acquired it and spent years of untold time and effort rebuilding it. They actually dismantled the farmhouse and used some of the materials to build a new house. As they raised their family—Janice, her sister and two brothers—they found they loved entertaining. Eventually, they decided to open a Bed and Breakfast. The Virginia Cliffe Inn opened its doors in 1998. Janice started managing it and runs the Inn full-time today. It is also now one of the area’s premier wedding destinations.
As we mentioned, this is Janice’s second act. Leaving her career of 25 years was a difficult decision. She holds a degree in Business Administration and was a teacher and then Director at St. Joseph’s Villa, which serves autistic students. She feels very strongly, as she always has, about the mission of St Joseph’s and has students intern at the inn twice per week learning job skills. But as she gave us the grand tour, it was apparent that sharing this wonderful place with the community means a lot to her. It is a passion project.
“I love this area and the people,” said Janice. “The Inn has always been my home and I am honored that it is now a place where people come together to celebrate their special events. We get to be part of their lives.”
As we made our way inside, soft music was playing as sunlight filled the rooms. At every turn was something lovely. We especially delighted in the fact that, because it was a family home, there were so many sentimental elements—things that make guests feel at home. It’s really magical. Some of the special features:
Take the stunning detail of the woodwork throughout the house. Her father, who passed away a few years ago, as well as her older brother Steve, were master woodworkers. The Cliftons have owned and operated Cobb Lumber Company since 1967. The intricate tongue-and-groove trim molding throughout the Inn is a beautiful example of their work. Before we came inside, we admired the lovely gazebo that is used as a backdrop for the many weddings on the property—this was built by Dad for Janice’s sister’s wedding.
Then there is the Mural. Janice’s youngest brother James is an artist by trade, and hand-painted the walls and ceiling mural in the inn. Pausing in this room is like stepping inside a painting.
Other special features include: The Parlor, which is lined with photos of the Clifton’s own family weddings. The dining area has a long farmhouse table, especially conducive for bringing inn guests, as well as wedding parties, together in conversation. And then there is the beautifully crafted staircase that leads upstairs to the 5 bedrooms, each unique, each with its own bathroom, which belonged to Janice and her family members during the years she grew up in the home.
What a place to hold a wedding, I thought. Since I hope to help plan my daughter’s wedding one of these days, I took special interest! I love that it is a one-stop-situation. The Virginia Cliffe Inn can plan the entire event, including all the vendors: photographers, caterers, etc. There is a separate small building next to the inn for brides to prepare, and behind the Inn, a groom’s quarters. So romantic! Most couples get married on the elegant columned front porch, and there is a permanent tent in the back of the inn for the reception, white and lit with twinkling lights and surrounded by flowers. And the coup de grace?…the adjacent pond where the sun glints off the water and a pair of swans peacefully glide. Wedding perfection.
Janice’s Second Act is a challenging one. Innkeeping is a profession that allows little vacation time and is constantly demanding. But this labor of love and her family legacy have created a most wonderful space for people to come together—a beautiful place, in a beautiful community. A second act to be proud of.
As we made our way outside Janice called for the pair of swans, named Romeo and Juliet (of course!). As they came gliding majestically over to greet us, my initial impression was repeated: The Virginia Cliffe Inn is magical.
Special Event Coming Up: Holiday Craft Show
One of the most well-attended events at The Virginia Cliffe Inn is the annual Christmas at Granny’s craft show held each holiday season. Janice and her mother, along with local crafters, started this tradition back in 1980 and it has gotten more popular with each passing year. The show runs Friday, November 15, 16 and 17 (check Eventbrite).
The show is a unique collection of artists, bakers, and crafters who decorate The Virginia Cliffe Inn in every room with handmade treasures that you can purchase. You will find baked goods to taste in the kitchen, elegant ornaments in the parlor, and hand-painted note cards in the study. You also can join us for dinner as you enjoy your shopping experience. It is a time to truly see the Inn beautifully decorated with styled displays, while selecting gifts that were created with love.
For more information: