When Samuel (Sandy) and Donna Logan moved into a decaying old house in Charleston's historic Anson borough district five years ago, it was partly because they wanted to experience the pace, cultural excitement and special character of this old city.

They are one of the thousands of couples today who opt to buy their first house not in the suburbs which they consider bland and boring, but in the revitalized heartland of the city.

The movement, dubbed "gentrification" by some has drastically changed many urban neighborhoods. It has been criticized by those wo fear displacement of low-income city dwellers, but the return of middle class also is hailed as a new hope of old cities.

The Logans picked their in-town Charleston house, which dates to 1795, because it gave them, at less cost, more space (three floors of it) and more elegance than can be found in a new house.

Like many of the urban homesteaders, Sandy and Donna, a high-school English teacher, have no children.

The Logans paid $40,000 for the property, which included a shell of a house and a partially renovated carriage house at the back. They took a 30-year construction loan for $45,000 to plow into the six-month restoration project which Sandy designed.

The house was a shambles. It had no plumbing or electricity, no plaster on the walls. There were no bathrooms, and the old shed kitchen had caved in.

The couple scraped the woodwork, painted the interior, and did some of the repair work. They subcontracted the plumbing, electrical work, major carpentry and heating and air conditioning.

All plans had to be approved by two boards, the Historic Charlston Foundation and by an architectural review board, which enforce standards for restoration. The foundation even recommended the outside paint colors of rich red, white and gray, as "appropriate" to the building's period.

Financially, their home was a good buy. Their mortgage loan is $500 a month, but they rent the carriage house for $300, so housing costs them $200 per month. The value of their property has doubled in the five years they have owned it and will likely double again in the next few years. CAPTION: Picture, Sandy and Donna Logan in front of their Charleston showplace. Christian Science Monitor