Watha T. Daniel

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Watha T. Daniel (1911 – December 8, 1973) was the first chairman of the DC Model Cities Commission [1] and long time civic activist in the Shaw Neighborhood of Washington, D.C. He was a master plumber by profession, and he served as chairman of the D.C. Plumbing Board. [2]


Professional life

Daniel graduated from St. Paul's Polytechnic Institute, now St. Paul's College, in Lawrenceville, Virginia in 1930. After serving his time as a journeyman plumber he moved to Washington, D.C. in 1935. In 1940 he became one of the first African-Americans to be licensed as a master plumber in the District of Columbia. During World War II Daniel served as a pipe fitting supervisor for the Kaiser Co. in Seattle, Washington, Shipyards. He returned to Washington, DC, after the war was over and opened the Watha T. Daniel Plumbing and Heating Co. In 1967 he became the first African-American appointed to the DC Plumbing Board, and served as its chairman at the time of his death. [3]

Civic Life

Watha T. Daniel was deeply engaged in the livelihood of the Shaw Neighborhood and served on numerous boards and commissions. He served on the DC Board of Education's Board of Examiners for Trade Instructors. He was also chairman of the Citizens Housing Advisory Council. Mayor Walter E. Washington appointed Mr. Daniel to the Mayor's Advisory Committee on Health and the District's LEAA Criminal Justice Advisory Committee. [4] In the 1960s Mr. Daniel was elected to the Citizens Advisory Committee of the Shaw Neighborhood Development Center, and he became a charter member of the Model Inner City Community Organization (MICCO). Later becoming vice-president of MICCO. He also served as the chairman of the DC Model Cities Commission, an urban renewal program, between 1968 and 1972. [5] [6]

The Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Neighborhood Library

On September 27, 1975 the DC Public Library opened the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Neighborhood Library. [7] Originally slated to be the "Shaw Branch Library", the library at 8th and Rhode Island Ave. NW was dedicated in honor of Mr. Daniel prior to opening. [8]

Shaw Library

The Shaw Neighborhood Library or Watha T. Daniel Library is a building of award-winning design and one of the recently renovated libraries in the District of Columbia Public Library's system. Originally constructed in 1975 as a two-story structure in the Shaw neighborhood, the building was extensively renovated and reopened as a three-story structure in August 2010. With its distinctive translucent facade, glass enclosure, and light flooded interior, it has been hailed as a model for future libraries.

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  1. Jean R Halley Washington Post,Staff Writer. (1973, Dec 11). Watha T. daniel dies; active in D.C. The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973), pp. C12. http://search.proquest.com/docview/148367800
  2. Office of Planning, District of Columbia. (2008). Shaw Historic District. pp 12. http://planning.dc.gov/OP/HP/District%20Brochure%20pdfs%204.1.2/Shaw_Brochure.pdf
  3. Watha T. Daniel, 62, Dies; Civic Leader in District. Washington Star. (1973, December 11).
  4. Watha T. Daniel, 62, Dies; Civic Leader in District. Washington Star. (1973, Dec 11).
  5. By Hollie I West Washington Post,Staff Writer. (1968, Apr 19). Model cities given priority by mayor. The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973), pp. B3-B3. http://search.proquest.com/docview/143586235
  6. Jean R Halley Washington Post,Staff Writer. (1973, Dec 11). Watha T. daniel dies; active in D.C. The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973), pp. C12. http://search.proquest.com/docview/148367800
  7. Publick occurrences. (1975, Sep 25). The Washington Post (1974-Current File), pp. D.C.7. http://search.proquest.com/docview/146308814
  8. DC Public Library. Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library History. http://www.dclibrary.org/node/742