ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Throughout the Rochester community are many individuals who are on paths to make a difference. Paths often have more obstacles and barriers because of who that person may be, whether it be their gender, the color of their skin, or where they came from. That was certainly the case for Carmen Coleman, who is one of the first black women to own a building in the city of Rochester.

That building is located at 35 State Street in Rochester. As of now, the Civil War-era building is acting as a space for Carmen Coleman’s business, Lifetime Financial. However, she plans on renovating the space to restore the architecturally rich building back to its original glory for a space the community can enjoy.

“My goal is to make the beauty comeback,” Coleman said.

However, 100 years back this dream wouldn’t be possible. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that black women had started to own property, but still nothing of this magnitude. It’s a struggle Coleman understands being one of the first black women to own property in the city of Rochester.

“It’s challenging because I’m the first. In fact, I was welcomed but not initially accepted,” she said.

While the building holds tremendous historical value it is also a reminder of a painful time in history. A pain that Coleman has decided to use as fuel to drive her passion.

“The artwork on the ceiling of the slaves. They keep me grounded. When I walk in here is like an ‘aha’ moment. I know that if I was born 100 years ago, I would have never been able to come in here. I know that,” Coleman said.

Coleman says since her purchase of the building 6 years ago, she’s dealt with numerous counts of discrimination, making her journey of property ownership that much harder.

“Banking is still an obstacle, especially for commercial buildings. It’s redlining and commercial spaces. If a white person would have owned this building, they would have gotten the money right away. As a black person, I went around to every bank, and I found one bank that will lend to me. And it was under a caveat that I spent $4,500 on an appraisal. And I had to pay it before closing, which was unfair to me, but it was the only way I can get financing…And so it goes back to generalize assumptions about my capabilities, who I am, what I’m able to do and what my goals are. And I think it’s because I am a female and a minority in the space that is not normally occupied by people who look like me,” Coleman said. “I’ve had people try to take advantage of me. And if I try to fight back as a woman and as a minority, it’s like, ‘Who does she think she is?’ I’ve had people say to me, that you’re in a man’s world. And that was the rationale for the way I was treated.”

While the journey for Coleman is harder than it might be for her white counterparts, she perseveres through the odds in order to make her mark.

“It’s a business that actually complements the neighborhood. And more importantly, it complements people who look like me,” Coleman said.

Coleman may be one of the first to make this type of history in Rochester but as she says, she is certainly not the last.

“When the water raises it raises for all of us, all Americans and for all Rochesterarians,” Coleman said.

The first renovation of 35 State Street took place back in 1924. Coleman hopes to have this current renovation complete by 2024, marking exactly 100 years between the structure’s revitalization. Apart of those renovations, Coleman plans to turn the grand entrance into a banquet hall, put an upscale bar in the basement where a safe that dates back to the 1800’s is located, and use the back of the building as space for small businesses.