Founded by Calista Smith in 1982, the conservatory began with one faculty member and ten students. Today, a corps of distinguished faculty members teaches many more students—both children and adults—in a range of artistic endeavors, some in group classes, some individually. As a major asset to the community, TCFA is a 501(c)3 non-profit entity and enjoys the support of its enthusiastic members, including donors and volunteers.

TCFA is housed in a magnificent and monumental example of Greek Revival architecture, built in 1851 as the Second Baptist Society of Ulysses (later the First Baptist Church of Trumansburg). The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.