Ms. Florence Stephens
Joseph expands and invests in his estate carefully but thoroughly and runs Huseby Bruk up until his death in 1934. At the time, two of his daughters were unmarried and one was divorced, and because none of them were trained to take over such a large property, they were highly dependent on trustees and other people in their service. Ms. Florence inherited Huseby with nearby farms, Torne and Lästad went to Mary, and Maggie got Ålshult.
Royalty and scandals
Florence was often gullible. Her enthusiasm for the royal family was her great misfortune. She appointed Prince Carl Jr. her sole heir. But the prince turned out to be a bad advisor and a number of trustees undermined the economy through a series of scandalous businesses. At the same time, agriculture was neglected, and the systematic destruction of the forests became increasingly apparent. In 1956, the City Council of Skatelöv made a request to declare Ms. Stephens legally incompetent “in order to prevent further plundering and destruction of capital at the Huseby estate”. The following year, Ms. Stephens was prompted to declare herself legally incompetent. Meanwhile, the legal process against those involved began, with lengthy trials that only ended in 1962. The results, amongst other things, were that the heavily charged trustee Berl Gutenberg suffered a long prison sentence. Prince Carl Jr. pleaded guilty but was not punished. The court found that he had not understood his own criminal act.
Put under guardianship
All of this legal drama was commonly called the “Huseby Scandal”, which led to that the owner of the estate, “Ms. Florence of Huseby”, and her dubious “cavaliers” became nationally famous. The rumours did not diminish by the fact that the trustees subsequently took a number of quite unpleasant actions and treated Florence in a very humiliating way. There were many who felt sorry for Ms. Florence and who agreed with her, and she received a large amount of sympathy letters. It was not until 1976 that Florence was declared legally competent again, but she was still not responsible for the care of the estate.
Ms. Florence’s Testament
“Ms. Florence of Huseby Bruk” was a very special personality which became quite evident to all those who came into closer contact with her during her last decades, as she fought for her Huseby and her personal integrity. She showed “a remarkable blend of pride and humility, of independence and helplessness, of sharpness and credulity”. At the same time, she was a very lonely person.
Florence Stephens passed away in 1979, nearly 98 years old. In her testament, she left her beloved Huseby to the Swedish state with the wish that the estates and buildings “be refurbished and well maintained and, as far as possible, retained to their character, to remind of those who have lived and worked there and assembled the collections”.
After a long consideration, the state declared themselves ready to receive the donation in 1982. Initially, Huseby was managed by Domänverket, and since 1966 Statens Fastighetsverk (the State Property Agency) manages the estate. Today, Huseby is run by Huseby Bruk AB, a municipal company owned by Alvesta and Växjö Municipality. Huseby Bruk now is the most visited tourist destination in Kronoberg County, with around 150,000 visitors each year.