In 1955, the need for an elementary school in the eastern section of Clarksville became apparent as suburban residential subdivisions began to develop. The families who lived in the Barksdale School area at that time were required to transport their children across the city to Howell School.

In 1960, the City Council authorized the purchase of the present site and the construction of an elementary school. Work on the building began in December of 1961, and the school opened on September 4, 1962. The City Council named the school W.W. Barksdale Elementary School honoring Mayor W. W. Barksdale.

The original brick building contained 54,000 square feet and was built on a thirty-six acre tract. Total cost including equipment and furniture was $729,749.69. Engelhardt, Engelhardt and Leggett of New York City were the educational consultants. Hibbs and Johnson of Clarksville were the architects. Hugh G. Scudder of Union city, Tennessee, was the general contractor.

In 1967, as growth continued, 4,290 square feet were added at a cost of $80,000 providing four more classrooms. In the 1971-1972 school year, the Barksdale area was rezoned. Approximately 200 former Barksdale students were bused to East Montgomery Elementary and approximately 200 students were bused into Barksdale from the Norman Smith School area. In 1988, major renovations corrected problems with HVAC, lighting, roofing, and windows. At the same time, student restrooms and seven new classrooms were added at a total cost of $610,000 with an area gain of 8,530 square feet. Rufus Johnson Associates of Clarksville, Tennessee, were the architects. TDK Construction Company of Robards, Kentucky, was the general contractor. A new gym, science lab, art room, and student restrooms were added in 1996, providing 9,777 square feet at a cost of $628,249. The building now totals 76,597 square feet.

Barksdale Elementary School initial accreditation was received during the 1965-1966 school year from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools under the leadership of Albert Alcock. Mr. Alcock served as principal from 1962-1987. He was followed by Vernon Cooper from 1987-1992. Mrs. Mary M. Stone served as principal from 1992-2006. Peggy Vaden became principal in 2006 and retired in 2014. Mrs. Melinda Harris became Principal August 2014 and retired in 2023. Mrs. Karen Hoskins became principal in August 2023, after serving as assistant principal.