RIDGEWOOD - A once-forgotten piece of New Jersey history has been recently rediscovered, thanks to a public employee.

A statue used to sit atop the Ridgewood Town Hall. However, the sculpture was taken down in the 1990s and was lost. A Department of Public Works employee recently found it in the woods, covered by leaves and grass.

"Some people had remembered there was a sculpture on the former village hall," says Director of Public Works Chris Rutishauser. "Then the question came up as to what happened to that sculpture."

The sculpture depicts an early version of the New Jersey state seal. Lady Liberty is on the left and Ceres, the Roman goddess of grain, is on the right. Between them are three plows, showing the importance of agriculture to New Jersey's economy.

Ridgewood Councilwoman Susan Knudsen is now spearheading an effort to have the sculpture restored and put on display once again.

"I was so excited and just really taken by the beauty of the piece when I saw it," she says. "I immediately recognized it was important to get it out of the woods and to restore it and get it back to where it belonged."

Councilwoman Knudsen says the work of art celebrates Ridgewood's history, as well as New Jersey art. The piece was sculpted by Italian-born sculptor Gaetano Federici, who lived most of his life in Paterson.  

The sculpture will be restored for free by a local artist. Once it is restored, the plan is to either put it next to the flagpole in front of Town Hall or above the main entrance for everyone to see.

The town is now seeking donations from citizens to cover the cost of the installation.