In 1909, H.M. Gilbert and Clyde H. Richey started clearing land for 200 acres of apple and pear trees. By 1948, the school district made a survey of the area. The survey was part of the district's long-range planning program to meet the rapid increase in school population. Legend has it that the District offered to purchase five acres from Gilbert Orchards for the new school but received ten acres with the understanding the new school would be named for H. M. Gilbert.
By the fall of 1953, students and teachers were faced with the problem of an overcrowded building. A first grade class was set up in the kindergarten room, a fifth grade class was in the library while a third/fourth grade combination class was placed in the multipurpose room.
Construction of four new classrooms was completed by March 1954. This brought the total classrooms to eleven. By September 1955, three more classrooms and a library were added.
The city and the school's population both grew. Gilbert began to need repairs and improvements to meet the demands of an increasing student enrollment.
In 1994, voters approved a $49 million bond issue. State matching funds brought the total to more than $80 million to go towards modernization and expansion of the city's schools, including Gilbert Elementary.
The project began in the summer of 1995. The completed building has new classrooms and support facilities as well as remodeled classrooms.