In January 1799, the Maryland Legislature approved a petition for a charter to incorporate a society of physicians in Maryland to be known as the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of the State of Maryland. As written, this special act of the Maryland Legislature was intended to "prevent the citizens (of Maryland) from risking their lives in the hands of ignorant practitioners or pretenders to the healing art."
The society became the seventh of its kind in the country, and some of its notable achievements include the creation in 1807 of what became the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the establishment in 1830 of a medical library, and the creation of the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery in 1839 that was the first institution of its kind in the world. MedChi has been in its current building since 1909 and Dr. William Osler, co-founder of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, is given credit for the creation of the MedChi library that is still housed there today.
When Dr. Osler arrived in Baltimore in 1889 he was disappointed to find that the Society's library consisted of only 7,000 volumes of outdated and dilapidated books. He convinced the Society to purchase a building on Eutaw Street for use as a library but the collection soon outgrew the location.
The Society purchased a lot at 1211 Cathedral Street and dedicated the current building in 1909. Modeled after the medical society libraries of Boston, Philadelphia, and New York City, the building included a roof-top apartment (described by the Baltimore Sun as the "first penthouse in Baltimore") and a garden for a full-time, live-in librarian. The building was later renovated in 1962 by University of Maryland architect Henry P. Hopkins.