It took five unhappy plumbers to get Barbara Rothenberg's 600-pound red cast-iron bathtub up to its station next to the fireplace in her third-floor bathroom, and the plumbers were never quite as positive as Rothenberg that it had been worth the effort.
"Jeez, I hope this isn't going to be the rage," was one plumber's reported conclusion.
But yesterday, five years after the bathtub made its fateful climb, and six years after Rothenberg began buying and selling decaying and delapidated houses around Logan Circle, the verdict seemed to be in.
"Incredible!" "Good grief!" "This is the bathroom for me!" These were three typical responses to Rothenberg's vision of a Victorian lavatory as hundreds of house restoration buffs filed through it on the first Logan Circle House Tour at $4.50 a ticket.
This neighborhood of fading rooming houses, "trick pads" and absentee landlords around Logan Circle at 13th and P streets NW seemed to have found its place on the upper-middle-class map of Washington.
Rothenberg was one of first realtors to descend on Logan Circle -- in 1972 -- and for several years she had the field to herself.
Banks and buyers gave her the cold shoulder in those early days, Rothenberg recalled yesterday.
"They didn't want to give (loans) east of Rock Creek, no less east of 14th Street," she said. "Almost every one of the houses that I sold, we had to get the owners to take back mortgages.They (banks) really red-lined us."
Rothenberg blamed the existence of streetwalkers in the area for much of the difficulty she experienced in trying to attract affluent buyers to those huge old Victorian houses. So she took to the streets hereself in a manner, she and her friends in the fledgling Logan Circle Community Association.
They picketed the streetwalkers, carrying signs that warned prospective customers, "The police may not tell your wife, but we will."
There still is the prostitution on and around Logan Circle. "It hasn't been a picnic," said Rothenberg.
But an unrestored house recently sold for $250,000, and restored condominiums at The Iowa Apartments near 13th and O Streets all sold out the first day the developers put them on the market.
At the finish of yesterday's tour, Rothenberg, who is nearly as small as Queen Victoria and who donned a suitably Victorian costume for the her pet neighborhood had come and where it might be going.
"I expect Dupont Circle to be called Logan Circle West," she said. "And of course there's going to be a Bloomingdale's at 14th and T."
Sponsors of house tour, which began and ended at the Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church near Vermont Avenue and N streets NW, reported that they had sold about a thousand tickets. Six houses -- restored or in the process -- were on the afternoon's schedule.
One of them was 1313 Vermont Ave., the home of contractor Robert Keller. Built in 1874, the house underwent major modifications during a stint as an American Legion Hall. The doors were all rehung to open outward in accord with city fire regulations. So Keller had to rehang them yet again. He also removed four coats of apple-green paint on some of the walnut woodwork.
Other than the House Tour participants, there were few people on the streets in yesterday's chilly weather. Logan Circle is an area where the poor still vastly outnumber the affluent, and many of the 40 or so restored houses stand next to overcrowded, undermaintained apartment buildings or vacant shells.
Several Logan Circle dwellers spoke, as other inner-city immigrants have elsewhere in the city, of their desire to preserve racial and economic variety in the neighborhood.
Rothenberg said, however, only about one in 10 prospective home buyers who come to her Rhode Island Avenue office are black.