The trustees of the estates of Edward and Caroline Whitney gave to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) $25,000 for a memorial fund; the principal and interest were to be expended at MIT’s discretion for research or teaching in geophysics, especially seismology. Investigations in Hawaiʻi were recommended. MIT gave Thomas A Jaggar a leave of absence; he arrived at Kilauea on January 17, 1912.
Work then started on what would be the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. A cellar excavation on the north rim of Kilauea caldera started on February 16, 1912, marking the beginning of permanent facilities for the Observatory – the basement housed the seismometers; it was known as the Whitney Laboratory of Seismology. On February 11, 1940, the nearby Volcano House burned to the ground, and this led to the relocating of the Observatory facilities. (The present Volcano House opened for business in November 1941.)