History And Mission

At Stonington Institute, our mission is to provide superior behavioral healthcare services that: clients recommend to families and friends, physicians prefer for their clients, insurance companies select for their clients, and employees are proud of.


Stonington Institute began serving recovering alcoholics in 1957 as Starlite Farms, a working farm where people in recovery were introduced to the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous. We are the longest continuously operating, free-standing, voluntary treatment facility in New England. Our inpatient and residential services are located in North Stonington, on a private and peaceful main campus. We operate partial hospital and outpatient clinics in nearby Groton, Connecticut. Our transportation and off-campus housing service (OCH) make programs and services available to clients across the state and region.

outside of buildingOver the years, Stonington Institute has established itself as an innovative leader in the field of behavioral health treatment. Today, the Institute’s management team, medical professionals, clinicians, counselors, and support staff offer a comprehensive range of treatment programs and support services that span the continuum of behavioral health care needs from detoxification and residential care to partial hospitalization and outpatient therapies, making us one of the largest provider of behavioral healthcare services in Connecticut.

Stonington Institute’s experienced and knowledgeable clinical teams help people identify the feelings that trigger chemical dependence, as well as the environmental and interpersonal circumstances that exacerbate these feelings. Besides being expert in specific treatment modalities, our clinical teams focus on maintaining a safe, accepting, and supportive clinical environment. We view this as essential for openly examining, understanding, and eventually helping people to change the values, attitudes, and behaviors that contribute to and reinforce their pre-treatment lifestyle.

The programs developed over the past decades reflect the changing needs of our clients, evidence-based knowledge about treatment, and the changing treatment environment. Stonington Institute’s clinical and medical staff is trained and expert not only in treating chemical dependence, but also in psychiatric issues. Our clinical expertise allows us to provide comprehensive, evidence-based care to the dually-diagnosed within a 12-step tradition. Our staff includes a variety of theoretical perspectives to meet the treatment needs of every client.

In response to the growing demand for a full continuum of care, Stonington Institute offers residential detoxification, ambulatory detoxification, chemical maintenance, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, early recovery group therapy, and an evening intensive outpatient program. We work in close partnership with insurance companies, managed care organizations and government agencies to make sure the care we provide meets our clients’ needs, as well as the requirements of their health plans.

The Founding of Starlite Farm

vintage military pilot

The story of Starlite Farm begins during the Second World War. Nicholas P. Schultz, himself the son of a WWI veteran, entered the US Army Air Corps on October 13, 1943 and trained in a Stearman bi-plane (PT-17), a Vultee Vibrator (BT-13), an AT-6 Texan, a P-47 Thunderbolt, and a B-25 Mitchell bomber. Nicholas was one of seven Schultz boys to serve in WWII.

In the summer of 1945, while Schultz was on his way to the Pacific theatre, the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, effectively ending the War. Schultz returned home without ever reaching Japan and was honorably discharged on November 6, 1945.

Returning home, Nicholas and his wife Edna purchased Starlite Farm from the Main family. Lafayette Main had named the property Starlite Farm after neighbors commented on the lights hung in the apple orchard to keep the deer away. With no indoor plumbing and the Main House in disrepair, the Schultz family built a prosperous farm, selling fruits and vegetables out of their carriage barn (now the Stonington Cafeteria) and at local markets. The running horse windvane on the top of the Lodge House was the original windvane installed by the family in 1952.

In late 1957, the farm was sold to next-door neighbor Maddie Grufstedt who joined with “Duff” Chambers to open “Starlite Farm” as a working farm where those struggling with alcoholism could live, work and learn the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).


The Institute’s programs are licensed by the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH), and the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF). Stonington Institute has been accredited by The Joint Commission since 1997 and is a Tricare certified Substance Use and Disorder Rehabilitation Facility (SUDRF).