In 1939, the trustees of Morgan College decided to sell the institution to the State of Maryland. The proceeds from that transaction were earmarked for the construction of a center for religious activities, the Morgan Christian Center (now Morgan State University Memorial Chapel), a parsonage, and an endowment. This effort preserved the religious roots of Morgan College (founded in 1867 as the Centenary Biblical Institute) as they transitioned from 72 years as a private college to their future as a state institution.
The building was designed by Towson-born African American architect Albert Irvin Cassell, FAIA who designed a number of buildings on the Morgan State campus and other historically black colleges and universities. Beginning in 1944, the director of the Morgan Christian Center was Rev. Dr. Howard L. Cornish—a 1927 graduate of Morgan State College and math professor. Up until his retirement in 1976, Cornish lived in the parsonage and his home was known as a center of Civil Rights activities involving Morgan students, clergy and activists from throughout the Baltimore community.
In 2008, the Morgan Christian Center trustees deeded the property to Morgan State University and the Center was renamed the Morgan State University Memorial Chapel, to reflect the diverse religious landscape on campus. That same year, the University named Dr. Bernard Keels director of the Chapel. Keels organized a group of volunteers, the Friends of the Chapel, who have supported an ongoing effort to restore the building and return it back into a essential part of the campus community. With additional support from Morgan State University students and faculty, the Memorial Chapel was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.