At the end of the 18th century, Sir Agostino Portelli, the founder of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, came with the idea of building a villa in Kalkara. He made this decision because of the French Blockade of 1798 when the Maltese were fighting with their oppressors; thus, he thought it would be better to leave Valletta and live in the open country. The villa was completed in the beginning of the 19th century and was named Villa Portelli after Sir Agostino Portelli. During the Second World War, the villa became the official residence of the Malta Flag Officer. In 1979 the Commander British Forces Malta, Rear Admiral O.N.A. Cecil, left Villa Portelli for the last time. The moving out of the official residence was part of the programmed British Military withdrawal from Malta. On 30th January 1979, Villa Portelli was handed over to the Maltese Government and today it serves as the Maritime Institute of Malta.