In 1902 the Omaha Medical College, a private medical school, affiliated with the University of Nebraska to form the University of Nebraska College of Medicine. At first, classes were split between Lincoln and Omaha. After much debate, in 1909 the Nebraska Legislature approved this site on what was then the western edge of Omaha.
A national competition was held for the campus design. During construction this building was in the direct path of the devastating Easter Sunday tornado of March 23, 1913, but survived unscathed. The first building on this campus, it was completed in September 1913 at a cost of $110,000.
Initially, it held all medical school classes. After other buildings were added to the campus, it remained the home of the departments of anatomy, embryology, microbiology, and pathology and was known as the North Building. In 1970 it was renamed in memory of Charles William McCorkle Poynter, the longest serving dean of the college (1929 to 1946). In 2012 Poynter Hall was completely refurbished and is now home to the department of psychiatry.