William Dewey purchased the three lots for the hotel in 1902 with grand plans for a 12-story hotel. He named the project after Henry Roger Wolcott, a prominent businessman and politician. Unfortunately, Dewey was unable to afford the steep cost of production, and the project was foreclosed upon. However, prior to this failure he had secured a lease to James Breslin, who managed to have the construction completed by 1904. Breslin introduced numerous services that went on to become common practice for the industry, including a phone in every room, free miniature toiletries, and bathrobes, among other small necessities.