Climb circular stairs to the roof, walk through triple hung windows, open wooden double-doors hiding a shower and sidle up to the "hyphen" to discover a half-bath.

These architectural curiosities are talkers for prospective home buyers taking a look at 73 East Bay St. and 4 Longitude Lane.

The main East Bay residence provides upper level views of downtown shops, homes and Charleston Harbor to the east. Viewable through a lane to the south, the 4 Longitude carriage house boasts a two-car driveway.

Still, the most striking features of the nearly attached downtown homes built in earlier-era styles involve their light, spacious design. "It's a unique property, one of a kind," says Sis Marshall, Realtor with John Poston and Co. and listing agent.

According to Marshall, the East Bay main house and 4 Longitude guest residence with L-shaped lot can be purchased for $2,750,000.They account for 4,350 square feet of living space and sport five bedrooms, seven full baths and a powder room.

Alternatively, a buyer can pay $2 million to acquire just the East Bay Street residence, built in 1918 and in recent years remodeled outside with a Rainbow Row-like pink stucco look. The 3,263 square foot home offers three bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms.

The two-bedroom 4 Longitude Lane dwelling - raised about 20 years ago in a colonial design - is only available as a package deal with the main house.

Marshall credits noted landscape architect Robert Chesnut with developing hidden courtyard gardens, monuments and alcoves that serve to define the houses while tying them together as a mini-compound.

"Everybody who comes in says it's so charming: understated elegance," she says. "It's a very manageable house."

From the front of 73 East Bay, metal doors open to reveal a rectangular loggia marked by shrubs and small plants edging a short walkway.

Inside, the house showcases a sizable living room with 10-foot ceilings, hardwood floors, crown molding and period-style furniture. The meeting and greeting area connects to the formal dining room - marked by a fireplace with marble surround - and then to an airy "galley" kitchen full of cabinets, high-end appliances and a moveable wine cellar.

Off the whitewashed kitchen resides the gardens, visible through large windows. "It's full of surprises as you walk into a big kitchen," Marshall says. "The whole thing flows." With breezes from the open doors, "It feels like you are in the south of France or Italy," she says.

Also off the kitchen stands a spacious family-TV room. In 1996, owners installed an addition that includes a small bar with sink and icemaker, washer and dryer area behind closet doors and an upstairs bedroom.

A central staircase leads to the second level. At the top of the stairs is a full bathroom with the shower in plain sight. To remedy this, the owners built wooden, closet-like double doors to close off the bathing area when not in use.

The ample master suite showcases a large bathroom with an elevated tub, shower, and travertine floors. The triple hung windows , included in a sitting room with fireplace, offer enough space when hoisted up for people to walk out on the balcony. There are two more large guest rooms on the second level.

Off the hallway fits metal stairs leading outside to the copper roof. Subject to permitting, it could be possible to build a rooftop deck, Marshall says.

A powder room is in an alcove on the south side of the house. The hall, divided by a wall, connects to neighboring 71 East Bay St. to form what's known as a "hyphen." Previous owners wanted a utility room and a laundry but didn't have space to expand elsewhere, so they designed the connecting arch, she says.

Underneath the hyphen runs a brick walkway shared by 71 and 73 East Bay and 4 Longitude Lane.

The gardens, meanwhile, tie 73 East Bay St to 4 Longitude Lane. A row of Italian cypress highlights the far edge of the gardens. The driveway sits to the side of the houses and can be accessed by way of Longitude Lane.

An ample living room complete with a well-appointed kitchen, fireplace, windows and a circular staircase with heart of pine steps anchors the 4 Longitude property. The top floor provides two roomy sleeping quarters and rooftop views.

"Charleston has magical places, and this is one of them," Marshall says.

The main house and guest quarters are on the west side of East Bay just below South Adgers Wharf across the street. Heading south on the peninsula, take East Bay Street below Calhoun and then Broad streets. On the right at the far southern tip of Rainbow Row stands 73 East Bay St. Continue to Longitude Lane and turn right. Ahead on the right is 4 Longitude Lane.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.

AGENT SPOTLIGHT

Agent: Sis Marshall

Office: John Poston & Co. Inc.

Phone: 843-813-0067

Philosophy: "My first commitment as a detail-oriented professional Realtor is to exceed my clients' expectations by listening to their wants and needs during the entire process of buying or selling their home. I have extensive knowledge of the Charleston region and conduct business with dedication and integrity. I love seeing a smile on their face at closing."

www.postonco.com