The first school in St. Louis was organized in 1775, when Jean Baptiste Truteau opened a fee school for sons of the leading families. (The first public high school was not completed until 1876; it was the first in Missouri). During the Walking City period, the largest concentration of inhabitants lived in the area east of Jefferson Avenue, between Park and St. Louis Avenues; it followed that most of the earliest school buildings were located in this area. When the town's business district expanded, however, most of the older schools were demolished. Public schools still standing from the second period are generally square in plan, exhibiting Italianate design features, like many of the houses of the time.
The Lyon School, at 721 Pestalozzi Street, is a three-story brick building constructed in 1868. On the front facade, a projecting section of three bays has a rusticated first story; windows of the first and third stories have segmental arches, while those of the second are round. Stone trim appears in belt courses around the building, and at the center bay, where it forms the window surrounds and elaborate enframement and segmental crown of the entry. After its closing, the Lyon School was acquired by August Busch, and now serves as administrative offices for the Anheuser-Busch brewery.
There were parochial schools in St. Louis dating from 1818, when Bishop DuBourg arrived in St. Louis from Rome to establish a seminary and school for girls. However, none of these early school buildings are standing. One remaining example constructed during the Walking City period is the former Evangelical Lutheran Bethlehem School, constructed before 1875. The two-story, brick, hipped roof building is seven bays wide, with a central projecting bay containing the main entrance. The four-over-four windows have segmental arches, and the cornice is corbelled. An addition has extended the first two stories of the central bay.