Entirely surrounded by lagoons, the Palace of Education and Social Economy, situated at the center of the main picture, facing west on the Grand Basin, at the foot of the east approach to the Terrace of States and Art Hill. Fairgoers gained entrance to the huge building by means of monumental bridges.
The first palace in exposition history to be assigned exclusively to exhibits of this department, the 7.1 acre structure was irregular pentagon in shape but closely approached a quadrangle. Demand for exhibition space for the 525 by 750 feet palace from foreign nations, states and cities, industrial schools and colleges, far exceeded its capacity. The 365,421 dollar palace was constructed with a large, central court, but was enclosed to provide room for more displays.
Designed by Eames & Young of St. Louis (Eames later became the first president of the St. Louis Chapter of the American Institute of Architects), the purely classical styled palace showcased a cavalcade Corinthian columns which were grouped in pairs. The principal entrances were on the axis of the building and in the form of the Roman triumphal arch. Stately Corinthian columns were grouped in pairs and above the entrance is an elaborate attic, crowned by appropriate sculpture. Above the doors were broken pediments that bear reclining figures. The entrances were connected outside by a colonnade of monumental proportions. All of the sculpture on the Palace of Education was designed by St. Louis sculptor- Robert Bringhurst.
Fairgoers could view an elementary school or attend a college lecture. Each day a selected St. Louis area school would set up on stage as a model classroom. Kindergarten classes to the instruction of sewing, carpentry, music, cooking, etc., could be seen.
The palace was broken into three sections, displays of: schools (in northern corridor), colleges of the United States, and foreign governments.
Displays from technical, mechanical, agricultural and art schools were showcased in the west corridor, while the universities were showcased in the court. `Special' education was situated in the east corridor of the building. At the southwest portion of the corridor space, business and commercial schools, and the publishing and commercial houses connected with education are featured. Fourteen foreign nations exhibited within the palace's court, and featured large and impressive displays by England, France, Belgian and Germany.
Thirty-three states and four American cities are represented. Leading colleges and technical schools were also featured. There was a lecture hall for talks and demonstrations, working exhibits, school rooms, laboratories, etc.
Classes for the instruction of `special' students including the handicapped were held daily. The Missouri school of the Deaf, brought in actual students learning skills such as tailoring. The School for the Blind also did similar demonstrations indicative of their handicap.
The Harvard Museum's huge exhibit included a fossil of a pterodactyl
skeleton in the south corridor of the Palace of Education.
This area showcased, public health,
charities, correction and other general betterments. One featured
exhibit was a working hygiene laboratory for bacteriological and
chemical tests. The municipal improvement exhibits were installed
in the Model Street.
Companies related to education had numerous displays.
Webster showcased their dictionary while book companies, such as
Silver Burdett * Company and the American Book Company displayed
their educational books and references.
The National Bureau of Investigation had a private exhibit (invitation only
to police-related employees), pertaining to criminal records, while the
New York State Bureau of Identification displayed their English method
of fingerprinting and the French Bertillon System- a system that was
supposed to predict criminal behavior by measuring the person.
No separate building was erected for the Department of Social
Economy; certain exhibits of this department were in the south corridor of
the Palace of Education; namely, those relating to the general betterments,
public health and charities and correction.
One of the features was a working hygiene laboratory for bacteriological and chemical tests. The municipal improvement exhibits were installed in the Model Street.