First 50 Years of MSMS - In Brief > Michigan State Medical Society


First 50 Years of MSMS - In Brief

It was on June 5, 1866, when about 100 physicians traveled from across the state to Detroit to organize the "Michigan State Medical Society."

There had been two previous medical organizations in Michigan, but there had been breaks from 1851 to 1853, and then again in 1860.

So, when the physicians gathered on June 5, 1866, it was appropriate for Morse Stewart, MD, of Detroit, in his welcoming address to recall the following:

"The profession had failed to promote properly the advancement of medical science, individual growth and development, and through these the great and ultimate object of our profession and the welfare of society." 

Doctor Stewart made a strong appeal to the men, "that their hearts [be] expanded by an enlarged charity so as to exclude individual selfish aims, should we enter upon the duties which are before us." 

The men elected Cyrus M. Stockwell, MD (Port Huron), as president. Two of the original founders, Theodore A. McGraw, MD (Detroit), and George E, Ranney, MD (Lansing), were speakers at the 50th Annual Meeting in Grand Rapids, on September 1, 1915. 

Any review about the early history of the medical profession in Michigan must flash back to August 10, 1819, when the "Michigan Medical Society" was organized under Territorial laws. The Society, with five members, started that day, encouraged by John L. Whiting, MD, who had reached Detroit on horseback in 1817 from New York where he had been licensed. Doctor Whiting served as secretary and then as president. He died at the age of 87. 

In 1918, the first officers were headed by William Brown, MD, as president. The Society had but five members with which to fill seven offices, so two were given two offices each. 

The Michigan State Medical Society Building

Architect Minoru Yamasaki, the creative genius behind the beloved and no-longer World Trade Center in New York City, created a building of unusual design and unique construction to house the Michigan State Medical Society. The building, with its combination of elegance and practical utility, reflects Yamasaki's philosophy that buildings should create happy environments that do not overpower those working within them. 

The 1959 historical landmark stands on an elevation surrounded by beautifully landscaped grounds. The arch, a distinguishing feature of the architect's work, highlights the building with 31 gracefully curved, 55-foot long roof vaults of precast concrete that rest on 64 vertical columns. The columns and side walls are made of quartz aggregate surface concrete. The main structure is 155 feet long, 46 feet wide and encloses 20,000 square feet of floor space. A circular drive off West Saginaw Street offers access to the raised terrace extending the full length of the building. The front entrance is recessed, opening into a two-story high reception area. 

Visitors to MSMS will find the main entrance at the rear of the building where terraced steps rise from the large parking lot to the entrance. Sheltered by trees and lined with flowers, the main entrance encompasses the building's grace. 

Order an MSMS History Book 

To order a comprehensive history of MSMS, contact our Communications Department at

Posted in: About MSMS